Rafael Nadal, regarded as the King of Clay, on Sunday defeated Norway’s Casper Ruud in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 to win a record 14th French Open Championship.
It wasn’t the most suspenseful match ever played. It was Ruud’s first Grand Slam final, and he was facing a Roland Garros legend.
He put up a good fight, but Nadal just demolished him, showing he still had the juice to neutralize any advantage Ruud might have had. Even at 36, and dealing with a degenerative foot condition, he still played like someone 10 years younger .
Ruud did have a genuine shot to make this a competitive contest. After an unsettled first set, Ruud started the second set by coming back from 30-0 to win the first game. Suddenly he had a 3-1 lead, and it looked like Ruud was starting to figure out how to challenge Nadal and give himself a chance.
Unfortunately, that’s when Ruud’s game completely collapsed. After going up 3-1, Ruud didn’t win another game in the entire match. Nadal won the final 11 games, and by the end it looked like Ruud had mentally accepted his fate. When Rafa’s on point, there’s nothing you can do.
Nadal had kind words to say about Ruud, Norway’s first Grand Slam finalist, during his victory remarks. Ruud attends Nadal’s tennis academy in Spain, and Nadal knows his family well (despite having never played Ruud competitively). Nadal knows the next generation of tennis stars is already here, and he’s been unfailingly respectful of younger players during this tournament (and through the years as well).