Rafael Nadal played his first Roland Garros final a couple of days after turning 19 in 2005. Seventeen years later, Nadal is still a player to beat in Paris, reaching his 14th final and lifting the 14th trophy at his beloved Major.
At 36 years and two days, Rafa became the oldest Roland Garros finalist, leaving Andres Gimeno and Ken Rosewall behind him. Gimeno and Rosewall achieved this feat at 34 in the last 60s and early 70s, and Nadal smashed that record with another notable campaign last week.
With 112 wins from 115 encounters, Nadal is the most dominant figure at a single Major in tennis history. Heading to this year's Roland Garros with dark clouds over his head due to a foot injury, Rafa endured all the efforts to beat seven opponents and become the oldest Roland Garros finalist and champion.
Nadal kicked off his 18th Roland Garros campaign with solid victories over Jordan Thompson, Corentin Moutet and Botic Van De Zandschulp.
Rafael Nadal took the age record away from Andres Gimeno.
He beat all three in straight sets to avoid spending more time on the court ahead of more serious rivals.
The Spaniard faced Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round. After winning sets one and four, the Canadian forced Rafa's rare five-setter in Paris. The more experienced player shifted into a higher gear to prevail and reach the last eight after almost four and a half hours.
Things were about to get even more difficult for Nadal two days later, with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic waiting on the other side of the net. After a massive battle, Rafa delivered a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 triumph in four hours and 12 minutes to dethrone the Serb and book a place in the semis.
Djokovic gave his best in sets two and four and had two set points at 5-3 to force a decider. Nadal denied them, broke back and clinched the set 7-4 in the tie break to emerge at the top. Alexander Zverev pushed him even harder in the semi-final, and the second set was still alive when they passed the three-hour mark!
Nadal fended off four set points in the opener and erased the deficit in the second despite losing serve four times for 7-6, 6-6. Zverev had to retire after injuring his right ankle, leaving the court in tears and sending Nadal into the 14th Roland Garros final.
Casper Ruud tried to prevent Rafa's 14th title, but it was not to be for the young Norwegian in his first Major final. Rafa scored a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory in two hours and 18 minutes, taming his strokes nicely and breaking the younger opponent eight times to control the scoreboard and earn the season's second Major title.