Rafael Nadal is called the King of Clay for a reason. On Sunday, he won his record eighth French Open title and his 12th Grand Slam. He beat his fellow countryman David Ferrer in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
Last year, Nadal was upset early in Wimbledon just a few weeks after he won Roland Garros. Turns out both of his knees were hurt and he missed out on the rest of the year, including the US Open and the Australian Open in January. After the match, he told John McEnroe he did not play tennis for nearly eight months.
He came back after the Australian Open and slowly asserted his dominance in tennis and on clay. He entered Roland Garros the third seed despite being the favorite. The run to the final was not easy. He fell behind in his first three matches against Novak Djokovic, who took him to five sets in the semifinal. His opponent Ferrer had not lost a set in any of his matches this tournament.
It only took one game for Nadal to shake off any leftover nerves from his Djokovic match. Ferrer won the first game in four straight points, including an ace on the final point. But after that it was all Nadal. Ferrer is known for his defense, but Nadal had him scrambling to keep up with him. Nadal looked fresh even after his 9-7 victory over Djokovic in an epic five-set semifinal for the ages. This allowed Nadal to win 43 first serve points and 11 second serve points. In the deciding game in the second set, Ferrer hit three errors in a row to give Nadal the set.
In the third set Nadal was leading when Ferrer broke his serve, but rain suspended play for a few short minutes. When play resumed Ferrer tied it 2-2. Both men showed frustrations and it was Nadal who was able to find a way to play through them. He kept forcing Ferror to make errors and wound up 5-3. In the last game Ferrer only scored one point and Nadal won in a three shot rally. He fell to his back with his arms in the air.
Unfortunately the rain was not the only disruption. Protestors attempted to disrupt the match in the second set and one actually jumped onto the court with a flare. Others showed off a banner that demanded the resignation of French President Francois Hollande.
None of that clouded Nadal’s victory. He has won eight of the last nine at Roland Garros (Roger Federer won in 2009) and he improves to 59-1 at the French Open.