It was written. Rafael Nadal cemented his legend a little more at Roland-Garros on Sunday by lifting the Mousquetaires Cup for the 14th time, thus preserving his invincibility in the final. All in management and experience before accelerating, he disposed in three sets (6-3, 6-3, 6-0) and 2h18 of play of a Casper Ruud too tense by the event, he who was tasting a game of this stature for the first time in his career at age 23. At the same time, the Majorcan won his 22nd Grand Slam title, improving his own record.
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Playing his first Major final is anything but trivial. But when we add to the challenge another great first against the childhood idol, which is moreover in his almost impregnable fortress, the equation quickly becomes unsolvable. Even before confronting it, Casper Ruud had considered that he would have to produce the best tennis of his life to compete. He had a feeling it would probably be too much for him. Unfortunately for the Norwegian, he checked it on a Philippe-Chatrier court which soon seemed too big for him.
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For his part, Nadal was in his garden and he quickly made his rival understand this with a break from the start, accompanied by one of his “specials” a short crossing passing forehand winner. In short, a way of welcoming Ruud to a Grand Slam final. The Mallorcan certainly dropped his advantage in stride by committing two double faults (2-1). But his opponent did not know how to take advantage of it to relax a little and get fully into the game. He also gave up his commitment again in stride, then the first set (6-3).
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The most terrible for Ruud could be summed up in one observation: the “Taurus of Manacor” did not even have to play at his best level. Far from it. Nadal committed a dozen unforced errors in the first set, especially on the forehand side. He even conceded the first break in the second set on a double fault (6-3, 1-3). It was then that the Norwegian had the opportunity to make this final a real fight. In vain. Too inconsistent (26 unforced errors), he was unable to confirm and collapsed since he no longer won a single game.
In management in the first two rounds, Nadal clearly put a collar in the third, feeling the finish line approaching. His forehand lift became lethal again in the sun and on drier clay than during the rest of the fortnight at the Philippe-Chatrier court. This sudden rise in level coincided with the dive of that of Ruud, then resigned. For the 7th time in 14 finals, the Majorcan therefore only needed three sets. The dream conclusion for him of a tournament where the shadow of his left foot has long threatened his prospects. But Nadal is not made of the same wood as the others, definitely.
Rafael Nadal with the Mousquetaires Cup, his 14th at Roland-Garros
Credit: Getty Images
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