Rafael Nadal Defeats Casper Ruud In Straight Sets To Win A Record-Extending 14th French Open Title..

King of Clay Rafael Nadal rewrites history again after defeating Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in a match that lasted two hours and 18 minutes on Sunday in Paris, to win a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown and 22nd Grand Slam title.

The Spaniard Nadal extended his men’s singles record of 22 Grand Slam titles with a win in straight sets over eighth seed Norway's Ruud to reclaim his crown as the king of the French Open.

In the three-way major race, Nadal moves two ahead of his great rivals Roger Federer who at age 40 is still recovering from his latest knee surgery, and Novak Djokovic whom Nadal beat in the quarterfinals.

The 36-year-old, who lost to Djokovic in the semi-finals last year, has now won 112 of his 115 matches on the Paris clay.

Following his Australian Open win in January, Nadal has claimed back-to-back major titles for the first time since 2010 - when he won the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in a row.

Nadal becomes the oldest French Open men's singles champion after turning 36 two days ago, and surpasses fellow compatriot Andrés Gimeno, who won the title in 1972 at age 34.

Nadal thought he would have to retire at the end of last year because of a chronic foot problem and was troubled by the issue at the Italian Open earlier this month.

A stress fracture of the rib also caused him to miss two months of the season shortly after his 21st major win at the Australian Open. He has repeatedly referred to the possibility that he could be playing his final French Open. But after slamming the door on Ruud on Sunday and then hugging him at the net, Nadal made it clear that this was not going to be the tennis equivalent of a walk-off grand slam.

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"It takes a lot of energy to keep going. I want to say 'merci, merci beaucoup." 

"I don't know what will happen in the future but I will keep fighting to keep going." he said, as the sellout crowd of 15,000, clearly well aware of the speculation, roared its approval.

“I for sure never believed I would be here at 36 being competitive again, playing in the most important court of my career one more time in the final,” Nadal added. 

“It means a lot to me, means everything. It just means a lot of energy to try to keep going.”

Meanwhile, younger opponent Ruud, 23, was making his debut in a Grand Slam final and facing fifth seed Nadal for the first time in a professional match.

Ruud has trained at Nadal's academy in Majorca since he was a teenager and has modelled much of his game on him.

The Norwegian who will rise to a career-high world number six on Monday, has enjoyed more success on the clay than other surfaces and leads the ATP Tour for total wins (66), titles (seven) and finals (eight) on clay since 2020.

While they have trained together many times, the real thing proved as difficult as Ruud feared.

After his semi-final win over Marin Cilic, Ruud said facing Nadal in a French Open final was the "greatest challenge" in men's tennis and said he would have to play his "best ever tennis" to win.

"We know you're a great champion and I got to feel what it is like to play against you in a final. I am not the first victim," Ruud told Nadal in his runners-up speech.

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