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No problem for Rafael Nadal staying perfect in French Open tennis finals, as he routs Casper Ruud in straight sets

Rafael Nadal captured a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown.

By Ricky DimonRafael Nadal apparently decided that drama in the fourth round, quarterfinals, and semis was enough.

Channeling his typical dominant self in French Open finals, Nadal made Sunday’s final nothing more than a formality. It might as well have been a coronation rather than a tennis match. Having navigated his way through a brutal top half of the draw, the 36-year-old crushed heavy underdog Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 for his 14th title at Roland Garros and his 22nd Grand Slam triumph overall.

That’s not to say it was an entirely stress-free day for Nadal supporters. First they desperately wanted to see his chronic foot injury survive one last match in Paris. Once that objective was ticked off (Nadal showed no signs of any physical struggles over the course of two hours and 18 minutes), perhaps the most tense moments of the afternoon came during the trophy ceremony. Would the King of Clay say anything about his immediate and/or long-term future? Could this even be the end?

Another sigh of relief could be breathed when Nadal capped off his winner’s speech by saying, “I don’t know what can happen in the future, but I am going to keep fighting to try to keep going.”

Sunday’s contest was not even close to a fair fight. Nadal was playing in his 30th slam final–14th at Roland Garros alone. Ruud, 13 years his opponent’s junior at 23, was playing in his first major final. In fact, the Norwegian had never even been to a quarterfinal prior to this fortnight. Ruud had found some brief success by breaking back early in the first set and then going ahead 3-1 in the second, but the few times he gained any kind of momentum it evaporated quickly.

Once the world No. 8 gave back his break lead in set two, it was all over. From 1-3 down, Nadal reeled off the last 11 games of the match. He lost only eight points in the entire third set.

Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with the trophy after winning Roland Garros on June 05, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

“For me, (to) have this trophy next to me again means everything,” Nadal assured. “(There) have been emotional victories, without a doubt; unexpected in some way. Yeah, (I’m) very happy. [It has] been a great two weeks. Since the beginning (I was) improving every day, finishing playing a good final.”

The world No. 5 had to be good throughout the event–especially in a taxing second week. He needed five sets to get past Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last 16, edged top seed Novak Djokovic in a four-set quarterfinal thriller, and then battled Alexander Zverev for three hours 13 minutes without even completing two sets (Zverev was forced to retire because of a nasty ankle injury).

In the end, Nadal finally enjoyed a routine day at his office that is Court Philppe-Chatrier.

“I said before the match that I guess [facing Nadal at Roland Garros] is (the toughest challenge in tennis),” Ruud commented. “Now I think I know it is…. His numbers speak for themselves. He has never lost a final here, and there is a reason why. I guess like I said in the speech, I’m just another one of the victims that he has destroyed on this court in the final.

“It was the first time I have experienced this situation and played a Grand Slam final. I don’t think it really got to me until I stepped on court today and saw the full stadium and felt the atmosphere in the crowd.

“I wish I could [have made] the match closer and all these things, but at the end of the day I can hopefully one day tell my grandkids that I played Rafa on Chatrier in the final, and they will probably say, ‘Wow, did you?’ I will say, ‘Yes.’ I’m probably going to enjoy this moment for a long time.”

In a French Open final against Rafael Nadal, trying to enjoy it is all you can do. Because winning it is out of the question.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.