He is here at home. This Sunday, Rafael Nadal won his 14th title at Roland-Garros by defeating the Norwegian Casper Ruud in three small sets (6-3/6-3/6-0). A triumph which brings his total in Grand Slam to 22, thus beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, still blocked at 20. His opponent, who was playing his very first final in a major tournament, tried to make the Majorcan falter in the 2nd set but could only see the superiority of his opponent.
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The Spanish left-hander showed himself to be stronger than pain, stronger than doubts, he who had arrived in Paris with uncertainties, after leaving Rome in mid-May limping and grimacing in pain because of his left foot, gnawed since more than fifteen years by Müller-Weiss syndrome, necrosis of the scaphoid bone.
After a quiet first part of the tournament, Nadal emerged victorious from a grueling second week. Before the final against Ruud, he fought more than four hours against Félix-Auger Aliassime (9th in the world) in the round of 16 and Djokovic in the quarterfinals, then sweated profusely for more than three hours in the heat of the Central against Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, before the abandonment of the world number 3, twisted right ankle.
Sunday afternoon against Ruud, under a heavy sky, but with the roof open, the master of the place made the best start by breaking from the start and pocketing the first set in around forty minutes, even without his best game. His dominance only increased as the weather cleared, and the sun warmed the Parisian ocher and thus favored his devastating forehand lift. In the second set, the 23-year-old Norwegian took a good lead 3 games to 1, but his lead was gone in a few minutes. Nadal failed him from there with a scathing 10-0, until winning in 2:18, seventeen years to the day after his first coronation in 2005.
And now ? Nadal has sown, during his press conferences in the Paris fortnight, doubt about his future. “I have what I have on my feet. If we are not able to find a solution or an improvement, it will become super difficult for me,” he said after his stunning victory against Djokovic. “I will fight to continue,” he said on Sunday.
“Every game I play here, I am aware that it may be my last in this tournament,” he assured two days earlier. While waiting for him to reveal more, his record in the final on Parisian clay is enough to make you dizzy: fourteen won, none lost. Of the total number of matches played, he has a record of 112 wins for… three defeats.