Nadal Takes French Open for 14th Time

36-year-old who first won tournament at 19 becomes its oldest champion
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2022 12:55 PM CDT
Nadal Makes Quick Work of French Final
Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a shot Sunday.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

(Newser) – Rafael Nadal long has been considered a bad bet to be winning a Grand Slam title at age 36. A Bleacher Report piece predicted that, with his body apparently breaking down quickly, he'd won his last—in 2012. He once hurt his knee while sitting in a hotel room chair, per Yahoo Sports. Yet he's still playing and winning. Nadal took the French Open on Sunday in straight sets, a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory over 23-year-old Casper Ruud. Nadal told the Paris crowd afterward that it's "very difficult to describe the feelings that I have," per the AP. "It's something that I for sure never believed I'd be here at 36, being competitive again. ... It means a lot to me."

The victory brought Nadal his 14th French Open singles title and 22nd Grand Slam, per CBS Sports. He's now the oldest French Open champion; he won his first Roland Garros title at age 19. Nadal said during the tournament that he realizes every match could be his last. He's dealt with chronic pain in his left foot for years, and he said Sunday he played the final with "no feeling in" in the foot, per AP. Nadal said that he had received an injection in a nerve earlier and that the foot essentially was asleep during the match.

Nadal was pushed slightly when Ruud took a 3-1 in the second set. Nadal responded by winning the last 11 games. He lost six games in the match, tied for his second fewest in a major final. The French wasn't an isolated victory; Nadal won the Australian Open in January. Wimbledon starts in three weeks. "I don't know what can happen in the future," Nadal said in his interview on the court, "but I’m going to keep fighting to try to keep going." (Read more French Open stories.)

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