Sunday 18 March 2018 / 06:57 PM

Nadal, Truly The King Of Clay

Rafael Nadal reinforced his status as the king of clay in the French Open final on Sunday afternoon, beating Spanish compatriot David Ferrer consummately in straight sets to claim a record eighth title at Roland Garros.

The 6-3 6-2 6-3 triumph sealed Nadal’s twelfth major crown overall, leaving him now third in the all time Grand Slam honours list behind Pete Sampras and current rival Roger Federer.

His success means however that he is the only player in the history of the sport to win the same major tournament on eight occasions – a feat which will surely never be matched, especially as he is likely to add to his haul in Paris over the coming years having turned just 27 earlier in the week.

Nadal went into Sunday’ showpiece on the back of a titanic five set semi-final struggle against World No.1 Novak Djokovic – and many spectators and experts alike were anticipating the Mallorcan to show signs of fatigue against fellow countryman Ferrer who had not dropped a set en route to his maiden Grand Slam final.

That notion was, nevertheless, dispelled as early as the third game as Nadal broke Ferrer to immediately take control of proceedings.

But to his credit, the tenacious Ferrer broke back to level matters in the next game after a series of pulsating rallies which seemed to set the tone for a thrilling match to come.

The high drama, hi octane final that onlookers of court Philippe Chatrier wished for failed to materialise however as Nadal went on to secure the first set with ease before breaking his opponent in the first game of the second to leave the writing very much on the wall for Ferrer who continuously struggled to stand up to Nadal’s shot strength and precision amidst the windy, damp conditions.

Indeed, the only thing that really disrupted Nadal’s rhythm was a protestor who jumped onto court carrying a flare midway through the set, before he was swiftly ejected by the relevant authorities who did a tremendous job looking after both player and crowd safety.

After understandably losing his serve shortly after the mayhem, normal order was restored for Nadal who raced to wrap up the set with a double break.

And following a tight opening to the third set, Nadal once again moved through the gears to dispatch fully of Ferrer and the lift the Coupe des Mosquetaires which was presented to him by track sprint supremo Usain Bolt.

Nadal’s record at Roland Garros moves to 59-1 and it is certain that no other player on tour will fancy their chances of harming that ratio over the next couple of seasons should the Spaniard remain in such hot form.

In the Women’s final, which took place on Saturday afternoon, Serena Williams beat defending champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets to achieve her second Roland Garros title – eleven years after her first.

The American eased past her Russian opponent 6-4 6-4 to reaffirm her dominance on the WTA tour.


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Chris Kisby

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