Sunday 25 February 2018 / 04:58 AM


Rafael Nadal has routed Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 6-1 in a one-sided final to claim a historic 10th French Open and 15th grand slam title.

It completed an imperious fortnight for the Spaniard, who returned to vintage form. Nadal did not drop a set all tournament and reminded the tennis world why he has earned the moniker ‘King of Clay’. His record at Roland Garros improved to an unmatched 79-2.

He becomes the first man or woman in the Open Era to win the same major 10 times, with the next best effort coming from Martina Navratilova who won Wimbledon nine times. Margaret Court did win the Australian Open 11 times but that was in the pre-Open era with weaker fields.

It takes the former world No.1 ahead of Pete Sampras, whom he had been level with for the past three years, in the career grand slam titles stakes and only three behind Roger Federer’s record tally of 18.

Except for a scrappy start by both players, Nadal dominated throughout the match with his trademark forehand particularly devastating. From 2-2 in the first set, Nadal reeled off seven straight games to take command.

The shot of the match – and perhaps shot of the tournament – came in game six of set two when Nadal ripped a stunning forehand on the run. The winner, clocked at 160 kilometres per hour, dropped jaws in the crowd and drew a sporting applause from Wawrinka.

But it was other areas of his game that are not typically his strengths in which Nadal excelled too. His backhand was on fire and he had a fabulous serving day, hitting four aces, not dropping serve once and winning 83% of points behind his first serve. He finished the two-hour match with very tidy numbers: 29 winners to 12 unforced errors.

Nadal was helped by the warm conditions, which gave his shots extra bite off the surface.

If anyone has the firepower to hit through Nadal’s defence on clay, it is Wawrinka. But he needed to have the sort of performance he produced two years ago against Novak Djokovic where he blasted 59 winners. Today, he only managed 19 and could never find his range or rhythm.

Nadal collapsed on his back when the moment of victory arrived. In a nice touch, he was presented the trophy by long-time coach Toni Nadal, who has mentored his nephew since the age of three. Uncle Toni is in his last season coaching Nadal before he spends more time with his family and at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca.

During the presentation, Nadal spoke of his bond with the French Open since 2005.

“It’s truly incredible,” he said. “In this final, to win the Decima is very, very special. I’m really emotional.”

“The feeling I have here is impossible to describe. Difficult to compare to other places.

“For me the nerves, the adrenaline I feel when I play on this court is impossible to compare to another feeling. It’s the most important event in my career without a doubt.”

Going forward, Nadal has every chance to finish 2017 as the world No.1 because he has very few points to defend in the back end of the season. His resurgent season started in January, when Nadal was up a break in the fifth set of the Australian Open final before surrendering to Federer.

[YouTube – Ric B]

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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