Rafael Nadal again exerted his dominance on clay by sealing his 14th title at Roland-Garros.
The Spaniard cruised to a 6-3 6-3 6-0 win over first runner-up Casper Ruud at Roland Garros.
Nadal is two days past his 36th birthday and suffers from a chronic foot problem, which has sparked retirement rumours.
But he brushed aside Norway’s eighth seed Ruud to claim a 22nd Grand Slam victory and edge him past two great rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at the top of the men’s all-time rankings.
As expected, the quarter-final win over incumbent Djokovic proved Nadal’s biggest hurdle on his way to the ‘decimocuarto’.
On the other hand, it was a walk in the Parisian sun against Ruud, 17 years to the day since the Spaniard won his first title there.
Such is Nadal’s longevity, he now frequently comes up against players who idolized him as a child.
Ruud, 23, is one of them, having been in the crowd when Nadal won his eighth title, against David Ferrer in 2013.
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The Norwegian also trained at Nadal’s academy in Mallorca, regularly playing practice sets with his hero.
It was their first competitive encounter, although the first set had all the intensity of a knockout in the Spanish sun.
It was a rude awakening for the underdog when he was immediately smashed, and although Nadal let him slip away with a loose service game, the opening set was soon in the bag.
A double fault gave Ruud a chance to like for a 3-1 lead in the second, but he was unable to take the lead as Nadal tapped into energy reserves to fight back directly.
When a forehand winner raced across the line to score the set point, Ruud shook his head in despair and quickly double faulted to give Nadal a 2-0 lead.
Not much went well for Norway’s first men’s Grand Slam singles finalist, and when he sent a single volley into the net, Nadal made two breaks in the third.
In the end, it was a procession, with “Viva Espana” blaring from a group in the stands as Nadal added the Roland Garros trophy to the Australian Open he won earlier this year.
It remains to be seen whether his aging and sick body allows him to harvest more.