History was made at Roland Garros yesterday as Rafael Nadal completed ‘La Decima’ at the French Open by beating Stan Wawrinka 6-2Â 6-3Â 6-1Â in the final.
Nadal’s victory made him the first man in the Open Era to win the same grand slam on 10 separate occasions, enhancing his right to the nicknameÂ of ‘King of Clay’.
The Spaniard was unplayable as he swept aside the challenge of Wawrinka, producing a moment for the ages when he sent a laser-guided forehand down the line after scrambling across court to return an excellent backhand from his opponent.
He extended his record at Roland Garros to 79 wins and two losses since his first victory in 2005, the only defeats coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2014.
Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon nine times, while Roger Federer and Pete Sampras are the only post-war players among a group of six men to have won a Grand Slam seven times.
Despite a 15-3 career record against Wawrinka, and an imperious run to the final over the last two weeks, Nadal still had questions to answer heading into the final.
He responded in emphatic fashion, proving he was back to the kind of form that saw off all-comers in Paris for the best part of a decade.
Wawrinka’s firepower off both forehand and backhand had seen off world number one Andy Murray in the semi-finals, but he could not dominate Nadal in the same way.
The Spaniard’s relentless depth and power left Wawrinka trying for his spectacular winners from too wide and too deep, opening up the court for Nadal’s forehand to deliver the decisive blows.
A scrappy start from both men in hot conditions saw Wawrinka miss the first break point in game three, and fail to earn another.
While the Swiss could not stop leaking errors, Nadal found his rhythm and began skipping around his backhand to fire off forehands, breaking serve at 4-2 and again to seal the set.
Four winners and 17 errors from Wawrinka told its own story, and he found himself 3-0 down in the second as Nadal stretched his run to seven games in a row.
Wawrinka’s frustration boiled over as he smashed his racquet on the clay – snapping it over his knee for good measure – moments before losing the second set.
Another fizzing forehand winner swept Nadal through to a love break of serve at the start of the third and the nine-time champion had too much experience to let such a commanding lead slip.
The Philippe Chatrier Court crowd did their best to haul Wawrinka back into the match but Nadal was now simply unstoppable, breaking serve twice more before collapsing in joy when the Swiss netted on the second match point.
NADALâ€™S PAST FRENCH OPEN CONQUESTS
Â§Â 2005 – beat Mariano Puerta (Argentina) 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5
Â§Â 2006 – beat Roger Federer (Switzerland) 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-4)
Â§Â 2007 – beat Roger Federer (Switzerland) 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4
Â§Â 2008 – beat Roger Federer (Switzerland) 6-1 6-3 6-0
Â§Â 2010 – beat Robin Soderling (Sweden) 6-4 6-2 6-4
Â§Â 2011 – beat Roger Federer (Switzerland) 7-5 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-1
Â§Â 2012 – beat Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5
Â§Â 2013 – beat David Ferrer (Spain) 6-3 6-2 6-3
Â§Â 2014 – beat Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4
Â§Â 2017 – beat Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) 6-2 6-3 6-1