Few things in sports become a universal truth, and Rafael Nadal winning the French Open is one among those. On Sunday, in front of a very posh-looking crowd at Philippe Chartier, Nadal picked apart Casper Ruud, beating the Norwegian in straight sets to claim his 14th French Open Title. 

This was the 14th time Nadal reached the Roland Garros Final, and he has signed off with La Coupe des Mousquetaires on each occasion. Previously, the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, and David Ferrer have tried to tarnish his unblemished record in the finals, but all in vain.

Casper Ruud, who was once a trainee at Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy, could tell you the names of all the finalists who succumbed to the Spaniard. Now he can add his own name to the list. He may have failed to cross the one last hurdle, but he is the first Norwegian to play the Grand Slams final and has earned the bragging rights as he is one among a handful of players who have tried to dethrone the King of Clay.

Ruud’s vulnerabilities on his backhand side were exposed quite early in the game, and since then, Nadal just kept sending the ball high on his weaker side, forcing as many as 15 unforced-error from his opponents on a backhand. 

Nadal has now 22 Grand Slams—two more than his fiercest rivals, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who he defeated early in the tournament. This is also the first time Nadal started the year with back-to-back Grand Slams, winning both the Australian Open and French Open.

However, it was not his opponents but his foot injury was proving to be the biggest stumbling block on his way to triumph. He was barely able to walk after the second-round match, and played the next set of matches under anaesthetic. 

“I have been playing with injections on the nerves to sleep the foot, and that’s why I was able to play during these two weeks because I have no feelings on my foot, because my doctor was able to put anaesthetic injections on the nerves. That takes out the feeling on my foot,” Nadal said.

There’s no certainty over his participation at the Wimbledon, but he vowed to keep fighting as long as his body allows. 

“I don’t know what can happen in the future. I will keep fighting to try to keep going. For me it is incredible to play here with an amazing support from you to me.”

Featured Image Credit: Roland Garros