Rafael Nadal became the first-ever man, and second player in history, to claim 10 titles at the same Grand Slam as he secured a dream ‘Decima’ with victory over Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final on Sunday.
The Spaniard ended a three-year Grand Slam title drought with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 win over the third-seeded Wawrinka and will return to the No2 spot in the rankings for the first time since October 2014.
The victory gave Nadal his 15th major trophy and he has now taken sole possession of the second spot on the all-time list of men’s Grand Slam titles won.
The upper grandstand was covered in large banners with the words ‘Bravo Rafa’, as the Spaniard received the trophy. They also played a video on the screens in the stadium with highlights from all his 10 wins.
“The feeling that I have here is impossible to describe, difficult to compare to other places. For me the nerves, the adrenaline that I feel when I play in this court is impossible to compare to other feelings. It’s the most important event in my career without a doubt,” an emotional Nadal told Cedric Pioline on court after the win.
In warm, sunny 30-degree weather, Nadal and Wawrinka walked onto Court Philippe Chatrier to huge roars.
Ahead of the final Nicole Kidman presented the trophy to the crowd, encased in a Louis Vuitton trunk.
Nadal sent out a serious signal of intent when he held his first service game at love. If anyone was curious to see if he was nervous to start the final step in his quest for the ‘Decima’, the Spaniard did a good job of not showing.
Wawrinka too held his first service game easily and it was the Swiss who got his hands on the first break point of the match, in game three, with an overhead smash. It was saved with a service winner, to the Wawrinka backhand. An ace from Nadal came at opportune moment – it was just his 15th of the entire tournament, and he went on to hold for 2-1.
It was Nadal’s turn to get a break points – in fact he got four of them, but Wawrinka saved all of them valiantly to hold for 2-2. Only four games were played but 24 minutes had already passed since the start of the final.
Wawrinka fell behind 0-40 in game six and Nadal got the first break of the match for a 4-2 lead by producing some cool angles and swiftly changing the direction of the ball.
‘Rafa, te quiero’, yelled a male fan from the crowd.
A sensational backhand volley gave Nadal a 5-2 advantage.
A series of punishing forehands gave Nadal his first set point on the Wawrinka serve and the Spaniard did not hesitate to convert as he leapt to a one-set lead in 42 minutes.
Nadal got his first time violation of the match in the first service game of the second set, but he was unfazed and held for 1-0.
The nine-time champion was mercilessly sending one punishing forehand after the other and Wawrinka could barely even get a racquet on one of them as he went down 0-40.
The crowd cheered loudly, in attempt to lift Wawrinka, hoping to see a more competitive contest, but Nadal broke at love to open up a 2-0 gap.
Nadal easily consolidated his break for 3-0. After dropping seven games in a row, Wawrinka finally stopped the bleeding to hold in gave four of the second set.
The highlight of the match thus far came in the sixth game as Nadal responded to a Wawrinka backhand with a stunning forehand down the line winner that almost clipped the net post. Nadal wasn’t even looking when he hit it.
Wawrinka still hung on for 2-4.
Nadal got his hands on two set points as a Wawrinka passing shot sailed long. The Swiss obliterated his racquet in frustration and Nadal took a two-set lead with a service winner to edge closer to his dream ‘Decima’.
Nadal broke to start the third and was in control, pulling off smooth volleys and consolidating with ease.
The crowd got behind Wawrinka as he tried to hold in the fifth game but their roars were to no avail as Nadal extended his lead to 4-1.
The match was over two games later as Nadal flung himself to the ground in celebration.
“Congratulations to Rafa. Nothing to say about today. You were just too good. Its always an honour for me to play you – second time in a Slam final,” Wawrinka told Nadal on court.