Fans, having had an exciting and unexpected result in the Women’s French Open final, arrived on the Philippe Chatrier Court expecting another close men’s encounter but while disappointed in that respect, were delighted to have witnessed history being made.
The feeling I have here is impossible to describe. The nerves, the adrenaline that I feel when I play in this court is impossible to compare. It's the most important tournament in my career and to win again is something I can't describe. Rafa Nadal
There can be no tennis fan, irrespective of who their idol is, that will not have celebrated Rafa Nadal’s 10th success – La Decima – on the grueling clay courts of Roland Garros. The Spaniard had produced some awesome tennis to arrive in the championship round and he didn’t let up.
For Stan Wawrinka, who had never lost a grand slam final in his previous three appearances, the experience was disheartening as he was overwhelmed by Nadal who secured his tenth title with a comfortable 6-2 6-3 6-1 victory.
There was no way that the Swiss number one was going to prevent Nadal from reaching his destiny. All through the fortnight Nadal was focused and would not be denied losing just 35 games in the seven matches he played – just three more than Bjorn Borg’s record set in 1978 – sweeping all aside for the average loss of five games a match.
In contrast Wawrinka toiled past his opponents albeit only dropping two sets in his semi-final victory over Andy Murray. That physical effort will no doubt have affected him, bearing in mind that at 32, he was the oldest French Open finalist since 1973. His shots certainly weren’t as penetrating as in previous matches but then he was being demoralized by an inspired opponent who was only one year younger!
The scene was set in the opening set. Both players had chances to take control in those opening four games with Nadal saving a break point – the only one he was to face in the final – while Wawrinka, in contrast, had to save four in one game as the Spaniard applied the pressure. That pressure bore fruit in the sixth game when he did snatch a 4-2 lead to set in motion his relentless march towards the title.
Wawrinka never threatened Nadal again as the Spaniard weaved his magic dropping only 15 points on his serve and making just 12 unforced errors in the whole match, unleashing both his backhand and forehand with unerring accuracy, at one point striking a forehand while on the run – in reply to a trademark Wawrinka backhand – to lash it down the line into the corner for a winner without even looking. The shot of the match which even the Swiss had to applaud.
Nadal continued his march in the second by winning his seventh game in a row to take a 3-0 lead, despite receiving a time violation warning from umpire Pascal Maria.
The third seed’s frustration at his inability to break through the Spaniard’s defences became apparent when he smashed his racket to smithereens towards the end of the second set as his efforts to wear Nadal out proved ineffective. He was everywhere.
The one-sided final was brought to an end after two-hours and five-minutes of play with Wawrinka dumping a weak return into the net and Nadal dropping onto his back as champion in what has become a traditional winning gesture by the Spaniard.
Nadal was presented with the Coupe des Mousquetaires by the Australian Roy Emerson, winner of 12 grand slam titles, two at the French, as a huge banner was unfurled high in the stands declaring, ‘Bravo Rafa’.
Wawrinka, on receiving his first runners-up trophy at a grand slam, acknowledged he was outclassed. “Nothing to say about today, you were too good,” he said. “What you are doing in our sport is amazing. To play against you is an honour.”
Following Nadal’s 10 triumphs being shown on the big screen, his coach and uncle Toni Nadal stepped up to the podium and handed him a special replica of the main trophy commemorating his achievement of becoming the first male player to reach double figures in victories at a grand slam.
And Nadal, who will rise to second in the world rankings, acknowledged his contribution had been vital. “Since three years old we were working [together],” said Nadal. “I have 10 trophies here and without him none of them would have been possible so many, many thanks for everything.”
Toni Nadal is stepping down as his main coach to take charge of the recently opened Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca with Carlos Moya taking over the head coach duties.
Nadal, who has now closed to within three of Federer’s all-time grand slam record with a 15th title, added: “It’s truly amazing. This final to, win La Decima, for me is very, very special. It’s very emotional for me.
“The feeling I have here is impossible to describe.
“The nerves, the adrenaline that I feel when I play in this court is impossible to compare. It’s the most important tournament in my career and to win again is something I can’t describe.”
Three-time winner Gustavo Kuerten believes he can still add to his tally, even going as far as suggesting he could extend it to an incredible 15 and frankly on this fortnight’s performance, no one would argue with that prophecy.
Currently Nadal is now just one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 11 titles at a single grand slam event, namely the Australian Open which includes pre-open era results.
Earlier top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova collected their third straight women’s doubles Grand Slam title by beating Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2 6-1.
“We played really well today,” Mattek-Sands said. “We played a good team. We watched them play their semi-final match. They beat another good team in three sets, so we were kind of ready with what they were going to bring out on the court.”