Rafael Nadal wins 10th French Open title after defeating Stan Wawrinka

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Nadal wins Roland Garros 2017

Rafael Nadal sealed a record tenth French Open title with a dominant win over Stan Wawrinka on Sunday afternoon. The Spaniard was dominant from start to finish, dropping just 6 games on his way to a 6-2 6-3 6-1 victory. It moves him to 15 grand slams, 3 off Roger Federer, and up to No. 2 in the ATP World Tour rankings. Between Andy Murray’s healthy lead and Nadal’s general struggles though, a return to No. 1 at this stage seems a pipe dream.

Wawrinka was going for a fourth grand slam title and would need to stem the tide of the Nadal surge early on if he was to have any chance of victory and his 4th win against the Spaniard. Break point came and went at 1-1 and that would be it for him in the first. Nadal won 4 straight games to close out the set, forcing the forehand error on set point to move 2 sets away from the title.

Nadal would need to win the final two sets to 0 if he wanted to break the record of Bjorn Borg, who lost just 32 games on his way to the title. Unsurprisingly, he would fail to do so but the next 2 sets were fairly routine for him as well as he continued to force errors out of the Swiss. Up 4-1, the pressure remained on with Nadal looking solid on both wings and besting his opponent on both the winner and unforced error count. Unsurprisingly, Nadal’s most dominant slam final wins have come at this tournament, including his 6-1 6-3 6-0 destruction of Roger Federer in the 2008 final.

Wawrinka ensured he wouldn’t match the manner of that 2008 final but it was just as uncompetitive, those early break points remaining his only opportunities at taking a game on the Nadal serve. Nadal continued to toy with the Swiss to begin the third set, drawing Wawrinka all over the court on his way to three break point opportunities. The first one comes and goes but a vicious Nadal forehand was enough to seal the break to move him 5 games away from the title. Stan may have played a lengthy match on Friday against Andy Murray but it didn’t feel like that made any difference to how the match went, especially given the relatively short length for a grand slam final of 2 hours and 5 minutes.

A tiny glimmer of hope that the match could be somewhat dramatic was extinguished very quickly at 1-2 with Wawrinka failing to get to break point from 0-30 and eventually Nadal would hold. A lengthy service game next time up for Wawrinka saw the match completely put to bed when the Swiss hit a forehand long under pressure from Nadal. Nadal had been having a field day attacking Wawrinka with his backhand cross court and that produced the first of two match points. He attempted to end it in style, with a forehand down the line that was just out. On match point no.2 Wawrinka attempt at a slice volley went completely wrong to give Nadal the match and his 15th championship.

As is now customary for title winners, he fell to the ground in celebration of his victory, one of the most dominant in history. Written off a year ago, he came back to produce some of the most sublime tennis of his career harking back to the days in his mid 20s when he would just blow opponents off the court. Wawrinka was incredibly complimentary post match. “For sure, he’s playing the best he’s ever played,” he said. “But not only here. I think since the beginning of the year, you can see he’s playing more aggressive, staying more close from the line. But that’s clearly his best he’s ever played. That’s why he’s winning so much again.”

“It’s a feeling that’s impossible to describe,” Nadal said afterwards. “For me the nerves and the adrenaline I feel when I play on this court is impossible to compare to another court. It is the most important event in my career, to win again here is impossible to describe.” Matching Roger’s 18 still looks incredibly difficult but when the King of Clay is in this form, how can you write him off doing anything again?
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