Rafael Nadal  def. Stan Wawrinka  6-2 6-3 6-1
The anticipation was that we would have an epic on the way to a piece of history, but Rafael Nadal made Stan Wawrinka look like a first round opponent as Nadal won ‘La Decima’ for the loss of just six games. To give you an idea about how much of a wall Nadal was, the single break point that Wawrinka pulled up in the third game of the first set was the only one in the match.
With Wawrinka’s forehand looking sluggish from the very start of the match, Nadal had control of the points right from the start. The Spaniard held his games with ease while Wawrinka had to battle early on to try and hold on to his serve, and after fending off four break points for 2-2 in the first set, it was the proverbial red rag to the bull.
He broke twice to render the Swiss to a standstill as he grabbed the first set, before sprinting out to a 3-0 lead, which set he Swiss back on his heels again. Even trying to coerce the crowd in the third set, Wawrinka was on the losing end of a barrage of shots from Nadal.
The final insult was to break the Swiss for the legendary La Decima. For all the talk of the ATP NextGen, its latest rising star Alexander Zverev was an early casualty, and we had two players over the age of 30 contesting a slam for the second time this year.
The five hours extra on court told in Wawrinka’s legs – he looked a step slow at times, and as his forehand left him abandoned in Court Philippe Chatrier, the script unfolded in Nadal’s favour, much as the specially prepared flags by the tournament organisers as well as showing a video of Nadal’s 10 wins. He now moves above Pete Sampras to take sole occupancy of the second place on the list of Grand Slam titles won, all time.
Nadal was dominant throughout – he did not drop a set all the way through to the finals, and it may come as no surprise that Nadal has been taken the distance just twice at Roland Garros – 2011, R1 against John Isner, and 2013 semi-finals against Novak Djokovic, who drops down to No 4 in the new rankings when they come out on Monday.
For Wawrinka, it is his first loss at a Grand Slam final, and he admitted that he had no answers and indeed no time to find the answers as he dealt with the Nadal barrage.
He said: “He puts this doubt in your head when you play against him because he’s playing so well. And second, 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 reason made that score today, but mainly because he was playing better.
“For sure against him, especially if you’re not completely free with what you’re doing, you don’t want him to take the lead and start to play even more aggressive and more free. But again, at the end of the day, it was three sets. Nothing to say.
“I was trying to find solution. I was trying to play better. I was trying to play the game I wanted to play. I was trying to do something different. But again, today, as I say, there is not much to talk about the match. I think tough match, tough loss. I played against the biggest clay-court player ever. He won his 10th French Open today, so that’s something huge, also.”
Nadal reiterated that this was the main tournament for him – and of course with good reason. He has won two-thirds of his titles in this arena, and while he edges close once more to catching Roger Federer over the rest of the season, he told the press what it was about the French Open that meant so much to him, especially in a year where he won his 10th titles in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
The French Open is “the” most important tournament of the year. That means when you arrive in Paris, I’m very nervous and I know that it’s going to be difficult for me. Year after year it’s becoming increasingly difficult, because I’m getting older, also.
Last year things did not work out, and I don’t think I’m entitled to complain about it. I was not able to catch my chance last year. This year I was. Again, this trophy means a lot to me. Again, it’s possible only because I have been physically strong and I have been mentally strong.
The organisers must have been unwavering in their belief that ‘La Decima’ was on the cards to have positioned huge banners congratulating him on his win, but maybe more poignantly they were on the case with a video showing him all ten wins, before allowing Uncle Toni, in his last year with his nephew, to present him with a replica for the achievement.
“The French Open means two weeks of a lot of pressure, and then finally, when you win the trophy, it all stops. It all comes to an end all of a sudden. And it means the adrenaline goes down and that brings a lot of emotions. That is probably why I have to sit down. You know, all of a sudden, the pressure comes down.
In 2005, I thought in 2017 I’d be fishing on my boat in Mallorca. I didn’t really think I’d have such a long career and win so many tournaments. So this video was very special. It showed great moments of my career. And back then, of course, I couldn’t even think a second that this would ever happen to me.”
Nadal and Wawrinka are scheduled to play at Queen’s Club, which takes place between 19-25 June.
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