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Rafael Nadal Crushes Casper Ruud to win 14th Roland Garros Crown

Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with the trophy after winning against Casper Ruud of Norway to capture his 14th Roland Garros crown. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

The artful aggression of Rafael Nadal lives as major monument in Paris.

Today, Nadal solidified his status as iconic iron man.

Ruling the red clay with resolve, a dynamic Nadal roared through 11 consecutive games demolishing buddy Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in the French Open final to win a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown.

Two days after celebrating his 36th birthday, Nadal stands as a champion for the ages capturing his 22nd career Grand Slam championship to become the oldest men’s champion in Roland Garros history. Nadal, who won his eighth major since celebrating his 30th birthday, surpasses fellow Spaniard Andres Gimeno, who was 34 when he ruled Roland Garros 50 years ago.

French fans were chanting “Rafa! Rafa!” in unison as Nadal raised La Coupe des Mousquetaires for the 14th time.

“For me personally very difficult to describe the feelings that I have. It’s something that for sure I never believed to be here at 36 being competitive again playing again in the most important court of my career one more time final means a lot to me,” Nadal told the crowd. “It means everything. It means a lot of energy to try to keep going. I just want to say Merci! Merci!…”

Fans erupted for one of the biggest roars of the day when Nadal shared his future plans in his closing comment on court. The Grand Slam king vowed to fight on.

“I don’t know what can happen in the future, but I’m going to keep fighting to try to keep going so many thanks,” Nadal told the appreciative crowd.

This powerful Paris triumph puts Australian Open champion Nadal two Grand Slam championships ahead of Big 3 rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who have 20 major titles apiece, and halfway to the calendar Grand Slam.

A year ago, Roland Garros unveiled a striking steel statue of Nadal whipping his trademark forehand as a tribute to the king of clay.

Today, Nadal operated like a tennis terminator overwhelming the first Norwegian men’s major finalist. Nadal carved up Ruud in baseline rallies, broke down his backhand wing and battered the man from Oslo’s serve.

Rafa’s renaissance was riveting and his achievement is staggering.

The king of clay was a ruthless ruler raising his Roland Garros record to an astounding 112-3, improving to 137-3 in best-of-five-set matches contested on clay and capturing his 92nd career championship.

After absorbing a final thrashing from his friend and practice partner, Ruud paid poignant tribute to Nadal.

“We all know what a champion you are,” Ruud told Nadal on court. “Today I got a chance to feel how it is to play against you in a final. It’s not easy.

“I’m not the first victim—I know there have been many before. To you Rafa, to you your team, your family, you have taken me into your academy with open arms and also to my family. So thank you a lot you are a true inspiration to me to everyone who follows tennis around the world so I hope—we all hope—you will continue with tennis for some more time.”

Gazing up at his father and coach, Ruud shook his head in a gesture of both frustration at this predicament and amazement at his unrelenting opponent. Ruud cracked dumping his first double fault to send the second set.

Court Philippe Chatrier offered expansive running room but no place to hide for Ruud as Nadal was chewing up rallies. 

“It was tough for me to really know where I should play the ball because from both sides he has, many people have said that he kind of has two forehands because his backhand is also strong, even though it’s maybe a little bit weaker,” Ruud said. “On the forehand he plays with a little bit of spin and kind of feels like you’re playing a right-handed forehand.

“I didn’t know exactly where to play there in the end and he made me run around the court too much. When you are playing defensive against Rafa on clay, he will eat you alive. “I guess that’s a little bit what happened, and I was not able to keep pushing him and making him run too much, so he was the one who were playing aggressive.”

he 36-year-old Nadal has turned the terre battue into a tennis mountain top. Nadal says passion for play is what still drives him to record-setting heights. 

“It’s not about being the best of the history. It’s not about the records,” Nadal said. “It’s about I like what I do, you know. I like to play tennis. And I like the competition. As I said couple of times in the past, and is not a thing that I repeat, is not the thing that I don’t feel for me, we achieved our dreams. Me, Roger, Novak, we achieved things that probably we never expected.

“For me, what drives me to keep going is not about the competition to try to be the best or to win more Grand Slams than the others. What drives me to keep going is the passion for the game, live moments that stays inside me forever, and play in front of the best crowds in the world and the best stadiums.”