Rafael Nadal on Sunday came out with a stunning display against Stan Wawrinka and defeated the Swiss in straight sets to win the Men’s Singles title for a magical 10th time, achieving ‘La Decima’ and reaffirming his status as the greatest clay-courter of all time.
The World Number four claimed the title with a clinical 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Wawrinka in a match that lasted for just over two hours.
The Spaniard dominated the summit clash completely and didn’t allow the third seeded player to harbour any hopes of a comeback in the match. The lad from Majorca did not drop a single set in his seven victories in Paris in 2017. Nadal scored 27 winners as compared to Wawrinka’s 19.
With the win, Nadal extended his head-to-head lead over Wawrinka to a stellar 16. This was the 15th grand slam win for the Spaniard, who is inarguably referred to as the ‘Master of Clay’.
The win gets even more poignant considering how only a year ago, a tearful Nadal bailed from his favourite tournament in Paris in the first week with a wrist injury, an unfortunate addition to a seemingly endless list of ailments that have been derailing the 31-year-old. Be it his knees, wrist or appendicitis, Nadal has always managed to recover and rediscover some of his finest tennis.
Despite a 15-3 career record against Wawrinka, and an imperious run to the final over the last two weeks, Nadal still had questions to answer heading into the final. However, he rose to the occasion emphatically by scurrying around the court and discovering amazing corners all around. Wawrinka’s firepower off both forehand and backhand had seen off world number one Andy Murray in the semi-finals, but he could not dominate Nadal in the same way.
The Spaniard’s relentless depth and power left Wawrinka trying for his spectacular winners from too wide and too deep, opening up the court for Nadal’s forehand to deliver the decisive blows.
Nadal becomes the first man or woman in the Open era to have won a Grand Slam tournament 10 times. Wawrinka, 32, was beaten in a major final for the first time after winning his first three. Now, Nadal moves above Pete Sampras on the list of all-time Grand Slam winners into second place behind Roger Federer, who beat the Spaniard to win his 18th at the Australian Open in January. Only Australia’s Margaret Court has more victories at a single Grand Slam tournament, with 11 Australian Open wins between 1960 and 1973.
The Spaniard won the title for the loss of just 35 games over the course of seven matches, second only to six-time champion Bjorn Borg’s 32 at the 1978 French Open. He extended his record at Roland Garros to 79 wins and two losses since his first victory in 2005, the only defeats coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2014.
During the post match presentation a beaming Rafael Nadal said, “It’s really unbelievable, to win the 10th is incredible, it’s very special. I’d like to thank all of you today. I’m very emotional. I try my best in all the events but the feeling I have here is impossible to describe. For me, the nerves, the adrenaline I feel when I play on this court is impossible to compare. It’s the most important event in my career, so to win here is something I cannot describe.”