His stoicism in the face of hardships has made Nadal one of the greatest tennis players of all time. On Sunday, Rafael Nadal claimed the 14th Roland Garros title, beating Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 18 minutes. Thus, Rafa remained undefeated in the Roland Garros finals, facing the first-time Major finalist and overpowering him to lift the 22nd Major crown and write history.
Nadal targeted the rival’s backhand and opened the court for a quick realization from his forehand. He fired 37 winners and 18 unforced errors, while Ruud counted 16 winners and 26 mistakes. The Norwegian stayed in touch with the Spaniard in the shortest range up to four strokes.
Nadal is a man who knows all about injuries and living through the pain. His own left foot has been anesthetized before every match these past two weeks to allow him relief from the incessant pain that has been his constant companion for years, and allow him, perhaps, this final chance to compete on the court that belongs to him in all but name. Nadal’s has been a journey of highs and lows, triumphs and heartbreaks, ecstasy and agony. But above all, for two long decades, it’s been the greatest display of human resilience ever witnessed in sport.
His resting face looks weary as he moves slowly between points, extracting every last bit of energy from the Hulk-like body that hosts his singular soul. Rafael Nadal at 36 is now the grand old man of tennis. He stands alone as the most decorated — perhaps the greatest — tennis player in the history of the sport. His record of 22 Grand Slam titles for a male player will not last forever, perhaps not even for a year if the freakishly talented genius from Serbia, Novak Djokovic, gets his way. But the doctrine of Rafael Nadal, the philosophy he has articulated and embodied, will live on.