Jun 6, 2022 - Sports

Rafael Nadal proves he's still the king with French Open win

Photos of Raphael Nadal in his French Open wins over the years.
Photo: STF/AFP via Getty Images

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.

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