World No.5 Rafael Nadal reigned supreme against thirteen-year younger Norwegian star Casper Rudd as he beat the eighth-seed in straight sets at the French Open final on Sunday. The ‘King of Clay’ did not let his age affect his agility against Rudd and claimed his 14th title in Paris. Nadal beat Rudd 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and fourteen minutes to lift his 22nd Grand Slam title and further extended his lead over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
The 36-year-old took the first set in 48 minutes with better break points. However, Rudd made a comeback in the second set as he took a 1-0 lead early. Rudd built on that lead as he moved to 3-1 quickly. However, the Spaniard brought all his experience to the fore as he resettled the scores in his favor. Nadal moved to 5-3 from being down to 1-3 pretty quickly and eventually claimed the second set (6-3) as well after a long battle of 55 minutes.
In the third set, Nadal was even better as he kept Casper Rudd on his toes throughout the set. Nadal had his eyes set on the 14th title as he claimed the 3rd and final set 6-0.
I am going to keep fighting: Nadal
With this win over Casper Rudd, Nadal brought several accolades to his name. Nadal passed fellow Spaniard Andres Gimeno as the oldest Roland Garros men's singles champion in history. It's not just the age but his foot injury has also been a persistent issue. Nonetheless, the 36-year-old is determined to fight and now eyes the calendar grand slam.
"It is very difficult to describe the feelings that I have. It is something that I have never believed," Nadal said as he hugged the Coupe des Mousquetaires. "To be here at 36, being competitive again in the most important court of my career. One more title means a lot."
"I don't know what can happen in the future," said Nadal, as an arena, reeling under the weight of retirement rumours, held its breath, "but I'm going to keep fighting, keep going."