Rafael Nadal proves he's still the king with French Open win
Rafael Nadal defeated Casper Ruud in straight sets Sunday to win his 14th French Open championship and 22nd Grand Slam title.
The big picture: The Spaniard's first triumph in Paris came in 2005 at age 19. Now 36, he becomes the oldest champion in the tournament's history.
The backdrop: Nadal has had a miraculous 2022 season after sitting out much of 2021 — missing Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the U.S. Open — due to a chronic foot problem that had him weighing retirement.
- He won the Australian Open in January to break a three-way tie at 20 majors with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and opened the season with a personal-best 20-0 record.
- But then he suffered a rib injury in March, and the foot was clearly bothering him at last month's Italian Open. During his run in Paris, he needed multiple injections to dull the pain.
- Yet, as was proven once again, "there is no tonic quite like Parisian red clay for Nadal," writes NYT's Christopher Clarey. He's now 14-0 in French Open finals — and he's never even been pushed to a fifth set.
Between the lines: This was the first time Nadal had to beat four top-10 opponents to win the title at Roland Garros, overcoming No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime (coached by his uncle Tony), No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Alexander Zverev (in a walkover) and No. 8 Ruud.
"For all that drama, Nadal was at his Nadal-est on Sunday, doing what he usually does: breaking serve — he took Ruud's serve apart in six of the first 10 service games; bringing his lefty funk to bear; and simply owning this court as if it is his own, which of course it is."— Jon Wertheim, SI
What's next: "I don't know what can happen in the future, but I'm going to keep fighting to try to keep going," said Nadal on Sunday. And we'll keep cheering — not wanting this ride to end.