Rafael Nadal won a record-extending 14th French Open title and 22nd Grand Slam men’s singles title, sweeping Norwegian Casper Ruud in what could be his final appearance at the competition.
After being affected by congenital, degenerative foot pain for the past year, Nadal defeated Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in what he said might have been his final French Open in the week. Rafael Nadal produced the second-biggest blowout of his 30 Grand Slam singles finals to become the oldest champion in Roland Garros’ history.
“For me, personally, very difficult to describe the feelings that I have,” Rafael Nadal said in his victory speech. “It’s something that I for sure never believed, be here at 36, being competitive again, playing in the most important court of my career one more time in a final means a lot.”
“I don’t know what can happen in the future, but I’m going to keep fighting to keep going.”
On the 17th anniversary of his first win in Paris, Rafael Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Andres Gimeno’s record as the oldest French Open singles champion. Chris Evert, the Open Era’s second-most successful French Open champion, won it seven times.
“Much more, probably, emotional than the first time because completely unexpected to be where I am at this age, at this stage of my career,” said Nadal, who due to the foot limped and grimaced at the end of his last match before the French Open on May 12. “I have been going through tough times the last couple of months.”
When asked if he thinks he’ll play another French Open, Nadal responded he doesn’t know.
“Of course, I would love to keep coming, but at the same time we need to find a solution for that because I can’t keep going the way that I am doing,” he said on NBC.
After having two injections before each of his seven matches in the last two weeks, Nadal said he played with no feeling in his left foot – “the foot was asleep, so that’s why I was able to play,” he said on Eurosport.
According to a translation by French journalist Caroline Bouchard, Nadal revealed he couldn’t walk after his second-round match in a French TV interview.
“It’s obvious that I can’t keep competing with the foot asleep,” Nadal said in a later press conference. “It’s a risk that I wanted to take to play here. It’s not a risk that I want to keep taking to keep going on my future.”
His medical team will try a treatment to permanently eliminate the foot problem over the next week, he said.
“If that works, I’m going to keep going,” Rafael Nadal said. “If that not works, then going to be another story.”
He intends to play Wimbledon, which begins in three weeks, “if my body is ready” and he can do so without the need for painkilling injections.
Nadal now has the most major titles in men’s singles history, two more than Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer together. While Federer hasn’t played in nearly a year, Djokovic has a chance to overtake Nadal if he wins majors until at least 2023. Nadal is a year younger than Djokovic.
Last year, Rafael Nadal’s foot pain forced him to consider retirement, and he stopped his season early before the U.S. Open. Then he won the Australian Open, which he described as his “most unexpected achievement.” He’s now won the first two majors of the year for the first time.
Rafael Nadal eases to the title
That was easy for Rafael Nadal, who defeated Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in Paris. Nadal appeared at ease in a match that lasted barely 2 hours and 18 minutes. Except for a brief hiccup at the start of the second set, Nadal was in complete control.
Why did we ever have any doubts about him? He has already won both Slams this season, having won the Australian Open in January, despite being 36 years old and suffering from a left foot injury.
“It’s something I never believed,” Nadal said after the match, “Being here at 36, being competitive again, playing on the most important court of my career. Playing here one more time means a lot for me. I just want to say merci beaucoup to everyone here. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I’ll keep fighting to keep on going.” — Tom Hamilton