The final score was 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, but really it wasn’t even that close today as Rafael Nadal wrapped up yet another clay season with yet another French Open title. Nadal now has eight titles at the French and that’s more than any man has ever had at any Grand Slam. And I have a feeling there will be more.
“The feeling on court was great. The match[es] against David are always difficult,” Nadal said. “I think the score is much easier than what the match was today. I think for moments I played great. I think a few moments in the match, I played at very, very high level.
“Eight times here is a lot. I never thought about that. But I will keep practicing with the same passion and intensity to bring my tennis to the highest level possible.”
Facing his friend and compatriot David Ferrer, Nadal showed little mercy pounding down the 31-year-old right from the very start.
The heavy, wet conditions, which Rafa apparently doesn’t relish, suited him perfectly fine against the soft-balling Ferrer – imagine had he been playing Novak today? David can hardly find the power to hit winners when the conditions are quick. With it so thick and mucky, Nadal ran down just about every ball Ferrer could offer and then returned it with even greater force.
Ferrer did make Rafa work a little. After some early stage-fright at the start, David broke Nadal back in the first set but really that was as close as it was going to get. There really never was the sense David was going to beat Rafa on this day.
“Well, my plan was to play aggressive with Rafael,” Ferrer said. “Today the court was slower – it was raining and very difficult to (hit) winners. Anyway, it was 6‑3, 6‑2, 6‑3, but I think the first set and the third one (were) close, no? To beat Rafael on clay courts, I need to play more aggressive. I need to finish the points at the net and to play my best tennis to beat him. But when the court is slower, it’s very difficult.
“He has more power than me with his shots, and it’s very difficult for to beat him. Anyway, Rafael was better than me.”
About the only thing that made Nadal uncomfortable was that nutcase protester who ran out onto the court late in the second set. Besides that Nadal felt right at home as he should, winning again on his favorite court.
And we can now add Ferrer to the list of Top 5 players Nadal has beaten 20 times. Djokovic became a member of that club on Friday just after Roger Federer joined it last month in Rome.
Maybe even more amazing than that is since returning in February Nadal has remarkably reached all nine events that’s he played, winning a tour-best seven of them now. (If only all players could return from a knee injury like that.)
“[It was] a very emotional, very important victory for me. This remained the step after the comeback [from] the injury,” said Nadal. “I won [at] a 250 first, then a 500, then a Masters 1000, so the Grand Slam remained. It happened today, and it’s a big personal satisfaction that it happened. A lot of people helped me a lot to be back here today. I will not say everyone because I will forget, but because of them, today here I am with this. That means a lot more to me.”
Rafa now has 12 career Slam titles placing him tied at third with Emerson and behind Federer’s 17 and Pete Sampras’s 14. Might he have five more in him? At 27 who knows? Who’s to doubt?
For Ferrer, it was likely the first and last chance he’ll ever have at a Grand Slam title. Unfortunately he had to play Nadal. But it was a great achievement for the hard-working Spaniard who’ll continue to be a factor in the big events. Remember David is the same age but slightly younger than Federer, and he’s the one still putting up great results this year.
“Of course, one always has the feeling afterwards that one could have played better,” Ferrer added. “But when the opponent is more steady or consistent, you have to accept it. I suppose in the future I’ll have to try and improve. That’s why I work day in and day out. I hope that I’ll play another Grand Slam final. Last year for the first time I won a Masters 1000, and I’ve made progress. Now I’ve reached the final of a Grand Slam. I hope I will continue.”
Looking ahead to the grass. Rafa has already pulled out of Halle to rest his knees. Probably a smart move as long as he avoids a big power hitter early on at Wimbledon. Nadal won’t move up in the rankings from Paris, in fact he’ll fall to No. 5 which where he’ll likely be seeded for Wimbledon. Regardless of wherever he is seeded or wherever he is in the draw, the 2-time Wimbledon champ is going to be a very serious threat.
He probably won’t be the favorite, or maybe he will be, but Rafa is fully back and as long as his body holds up it’s going to be tough for anyone to stop him, especially on clay.
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