One Rafael Nadal won Monte Carlo in April, it seemed like a foregone conclusion a 10th French Open would be just two months away. On a warm Sunday in Paris, just perfect for the Spaniard, Nadal played near perfect tennis trouncing former champion Stan Warwinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to win his 15th career Grand Slam.
It was the third time Nadal won the event without dropping a set, and he did it surrendering just 35 games. And he stays perfect in French Open finals at 10-0 (20-0 when he makes the French semifinals).
“Happened 10 times here already,” Nadal said. “Have been magical all the things that happened in this tournament for me. So very happy for everything. Today was a very important day for me. Have been some tough moments last times, injuries, so it’s great to have big success like this again.”
Nadal opened the match winning his first four points on serve. After Wawrinka held for 1-1, Nadal saved the only break point he’d face for the next 90 minutes or so, then the onslaught began.
From 2-2, Rafa ran off seven straight games to go up 3-0 in the second, and the match was finished.
Wawrinka slid an awkward backhand shot into the net and Nadal fell to the red once again. Later, it was the retiring uncle Toni who brought out Nadal’s 10th trophy.
“I was nervous at the beginning, had some bad games at the beginning,” Nadal said. “Probably Stan was some nervous at the beginning, too. Then I saved a very important game and that was very beginning of the match. But sometimes these moments change everything, no?
“And I saved that break point, that game with 1-All. Then starts the match to become a little bit more normal match, no? Because at the beginning was a lot of mistakes for him, for me. So was a lot of nerves out there.”
Nadal finished with 27 winners to just 12 unforced errors. Wawrinka, who blasted 87 winners against defensemen Andy Murray, only managed 19 winners to 29 unforced.
Rafa’s better serving has been a boon all year and Sunday he dropped just seven points on his first serve while winning 65% of his second. Wawrinka only could win 52% of his first serves, 44% of second.
The Swiss had won 10 straight matches, only lost two sets in the event and had never lost in a Grand Slam final before, but had absolutely no answer for Nadal.
“I think from the beginning from my side, for sure, I didn’t play my best tennis,” Wawrinka conceded. “I think I was a little bit hesitating with my selection of shots.
“I was always a little bit between for a few reasons. He puts this doubt in your head when you play against him because he’s playing so well. And all the effort I have been doing last few weeks to get to my best level again, to get some confidence again, and to win all those matches, some tough matches. So many reasons made that score today, but mainly because he was playing better.”
Nadal is now 79-2 at the French Open, 102-2 career in best-of-5 set matches on clay and with Novak Djokovic in decline, Andy Murray sputtering and Roger Federer opting off the red surface, is there anyone even close to challenging Nadal on the terre battue?
He also improves to 16-3 against Wawrinka and earns his second blowout win over Stan at the French, and by the exact scoreline he won by in the 2013 quarterfinals.
“He’s playing the best he’s ever played. That’s for sure. But not only here. I think since the beginning of the year, you can see he’s playing more aggressive, staying more close to the line,” Wawrinka said. “That’s why he’s winning so much again.”
Seven matches, 35 games and not one player was even able to get to 5-all against the King. That’s domination. And he just turned 31.
With his first Slam as a thirty-something, Nadal joins only Ken Rosewall and Pete Sampras as the only Open Era men to win Slams in their teens, 20s and 30s. And he moves up to No. 2 in the rankings, with a real chance at No. 1 before the US Open.
What more history will await next year?
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