Rafael Nadal left his best performance at the 2017 French Open for the last, as the ‘King of Clay’ lived up to his title with a straight-sets demolition of 3rd seed Stanislas Wawrinka in an incredibly one-sided final.
The final score read 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in the Spaniard’s favour, as he literally sprinted his way to a mind-boggling 10th Roland Garros title. His last Grand Slam triumph had been in Paris, three years ago, and after losing out to Roger Federer in the 2017 Australian Open final, he was in no mood to let this one go.
Wawrinka, winner of a marathon five-set semifinal against World No.1 Andy Murray, had been in impressive form but against Nadal, he was outclassed from the get-go.
Nadal broke early in the sixth game of the opening set and broke again in the eight game to take the set 6-2 with 42 minutes on the clock. The 31-year-old Spaniard broke early in the second set and at that moment, the writing was on the wall for Wawrinka. While the Swiss was not guilty of tanking by any means, his frustration was evident by a racket-smashing episode as Nadal raced to a two-set lead.
Often, Wawrinka could do nothing but applaud his opponent’s sheer brilliance, while the spectators were left gaping at the one-sided spectacle that was unfolding in front of them.
The pressure from Nadal was relentless in the third set as well, as he broke Wawrinka time and again to take the final set 6-1. As Wawrinka’s backhand hit the net, the Spaniard collapsed in a heap, probably more from after churning out one of the most dominant displays in recent memory.
Forget dropping a set, Nadal lost just six games in the final (and a paltry 36 over the course of the tournament), and has probably, set a record that will stand the test of time. Winning a tournament 10 times is no joke but winning a Grand Slam, and arguably most difficult one at that?
“It’s unbelievable what you do. You are an inspiration and role-model for many,” said the beaten finalist Wawrinka, echoing what many would have felt after watching the Spaniard’s masterclass.
Nadal’s ‘La Decima’ feat, his 15th Slam overall, will no doubt be one of the sporting highlights of the year and will probably reignite the ‘Greatest of All Time’ debate amongst tennis aficionados.
Cradling the trophy like one would a new-born, Nadal graciously accepted the thunderous applause Philippe Chatrier afforded him, clearly struggling with the emotions that were understandably running through head.
Speaking to the presenter after his momentous triumph, the ever-humble Nadal said, “My French is quite bad, probably worse because I am so emotional right now. But a big thank you to the crowd!”
After an injury-wrecked couple of years, many had doubted the 31-year-old’s chances of winning a Slam again, but after reaching the Australian Open final, winning the Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and the Madrid Open, he is remarkably on course to perhaps even regain the No.1 ranking.
“Sorry for the loss today, Stan. You have had a great tournament and great couple of seasons. Wish you all the best for the future,” a graceful Nadal acknowledged his vanquished opponent.
“My uncle has been coaching me since I was three. Without him 10 titles would not have been possible,” Nadal signed off as he paid tribute to his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal.