King of clay Rafa Nadal overcomes injury concerns to claim his 14th French Open title Yorkshire News

Fourteen loves: Rafa Nadal claimed another French Open title by beating Casper Ruud in Paris.  (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Fourteen loves: Rafa Nadal claimed another French Open title by beating Casper Ruud in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Rafael Nadal regained his crown as the king of clay with a dominant win over Casper Ruud at the French Open.

Roland Garros royalty returned to the throne on Jubilee weekend when Nadal won his 14th title courtesy of a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 win over first-time finalist Ruud.

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Nadal is two days shy of his 36th birthday and is suffering from a chronic foot problem, which has sparked retirement rumors.

Tour of Paris: Spain’s Rafael Nadal plays a shot during his straight-set victory against Norway’s Casper Ruud. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

But he brushed aside eighth-seeded Norwegian Ruud to claim a 22nd Grand Slam victory and move two ahead of great rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at the top of the all-time men’s rankings.

Unsurprisingly, the quarter-final victory over Djokovic, the outgoing champion, proved to be Nadal’s biggest hurdle on his way to ‘fourteenth’.

Instead, it was a walk in the Paris sun against Ruud, 17 years after the Spaniard won his first title here.

Such is Nadal’s longevity that he now frequently faces 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.

The Norwegian also trained at Nadal’s academy in Mallorca, regularly playing practice sets with his hero. This was his first competitive encounter, although the first set had all the intensity of a knockout under the Spanish sun.

It was a rude awakening for the underdog as he was immediately broken, and although Nadal set him free with a shaky service game, the first set was soon in the bag.

A double fault gave Ruud a love break for a 3-1 lead in the second, but he was unable to seize the advantage as Nadal drew on energy reserves to strike back.

As a forehand winner raced down the line to open set point, Ruud shook his head in despair and promptly double-faulted to give Nadal a 2-0 lead.

Little went well for Norway’s first men’s singles Grand Slam finalist, and when he volleyed a single into the net, Nadal had two breaks in the third.

It was a procession at the end, with ‘Viva España’ blaring from a band in the stands as Nadal added the Roland Garros trophy to the Australian Open he won earlier this year.

Whether his aging and diseased body allows him to collect more remains to be seen.

In his acceptance speech, Nadal at least ruled out any idea of ​​imminently hanging up the racket.

“For me personally, it is very difficult to describe the feelings that I have,” he said. “It’s something I never believed, that I would be here at 36 years old, being competitive again, playing on the biggest court of my career one more time in a final.

“It means everything to me. It means a lot of energy to try to move on. I just want to say ‘merci, merci beaucoup.’”

“I don’t know what can happen in the future, but I’m going to keep fighting to try to move forward.”

Ruud’s name was added to a list of victims that also includes Djokovic, Federer, Ferrer, Mariano Puerta, Robin Soderling, Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka.

Gracefully in defeat, he said, “This is a first for me, so let’s see how I do. The first and most important thing is to congratulate Rafa.

“It is your 14th time, the 22nd in all Grand Slams. We all know what a champion you are.

Andy Murray’s hopes of winning a first tournament on British soil since 2016 ended in defeat in the Surbiton Trophy semi-final.

Murray hadn’t won at home since triumphing at the ATP Finals six years ago and the wait will continue after losing 5-7 7-6 (5) 6-3 to American Denis Kudla.

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This notice was published: 2022-06-05 21:56:53

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