Rafael Nadal's most impressive Roland Garros final wins
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 7172
Rafael Nadal has played in 14 Roland Garros finals from 18 trips to Paris. The Spaniard is yet to lose the title clash at his beloved Major, dropping the opening set three times against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic but emerging at the top to keep his perfect record.
In four out of 14 finals, Nadal did not lose more than seven games, including Sunday's clash against Casper Ruud. In 2008, Nadal and Federer met in the third straight Roland Garros final. After tighter battles in 2006 and 2007, Nadal destroyed Federer with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 triumph to wrap up the title without losing a set.
It was Federer's most brutal loss at Majors and the most one-sided Major final in Paris since 1977! Nadal needed an hour and 48 minutes to outplay his great rival for the third time in the finals in less than two months and notch his 11th win over Federer in 17 matches.
The Spaniard was in complete control from start to finish, losing serve once and stealing 60% of the return points. He turned them into 17 break points and seized eight to bring the victory home in style and celebrate his fourth Major title.
Nine years later, Rafa battled against another Swiss, Stan Wawrinka. Seeking the first Roland Garros crown since 2014, Nadal earned a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 win in two hours and five minutes for his tenth crown in Paris. The Spaniard lost 15 points in 12 service games to keep his initial shot safe and mount the pressure on the 2015 champion.
Wawrinka could not match that pace, dropping half of the points in his games and suffering six breaks to settle for the runner-up prize. Rafa had the edge in the shortest and more advanced rallies, and he tamed his strokes nicely to control the pace and sail towards the milestone title.
Three years later, Rafa met world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in the title match in Paris. Instead of another thrilling battle between two tennis giants, Nadal was the only player on the court. Dominating under a roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Rafa earned a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory in two hours and 41 minutes for his 100th triumph in Paris and the 13th crown.
The Spaniard was the only player on the court in the opening two sets, and he sealed the deal with a late break in the third to wrap up an incredible campaign. Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits and suffering eight breaks in seven encounters.
It was his 20th Major crown, joining Roger Federer at the top of the list for the first time. Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable and relaxed. The Serb did almost nothing on the return and had no idea how to outplay the Spaniard in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage.
Nadal delivered a bagel in the opener, like against Roger Federer in the 2008 final, and served well in set number two to mount pressure on Novak and break him twice for a 6-0, 6-2 advantage!
Rafael Nadal has never lost the Roland Garros final.
Two great rivals stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks before Novak hit a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve.
Rafa made a comfortable hold in the next one to emerge at the top and save the season. Nadal came to Paris with question marks above his head two weeks ago. The Spaniard struggled with a foot injury and endured injections and three tough opponents to emerge at the top and deliver his 14th Roland Garros crown.
Rafa dug deep against Felix Auhger-Aliassime, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev to advance into the title clash. He had an easier job against the first-time Major finalist Casper Ruud, beating the Norwegian 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 18 minutes for his 22nd Major title.
Casper broke Rafa twice, and he needed more to challenge the most formidable rival on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Nadal sent most of his balls to the rival's backhand and had the edge in the more extended exchanges. The Spaniard took charge on the return and delivered eight breaks from 16 opportunities to control the pace.
They traded early breaks in the opener, and Nadal grabbed another at 2-1 to forge his second lead. They both served well in the remaining games, and Rafa clinched the set with a hold at 5-3. Ruud broke at love in the second set's fourth game following Nadal's errors and forged a 3-1 advantage.
Rafa shifted into a higher gear from there and rattled off 11 consecutive games to leave the young opponent behind and celebrate another Roland Garros trophy.