Rafael Nadal crushed David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours and 16 minutes to become the first man ever to win eight titles at one Grand Slam. His fellow Spaniard, the oldest first-time Slam finalist in 40 years, was left struggling in the champion’s bow-wave.
Rafael Nadal said he had feared winning an eighth French Open title would be “impossible” when a serious knee injury sidelined him for nearly eight months.
Nadal’s comeback has been remarkable, with Roland Garros his seventh title in nine tournaments, and he leads the 2013 standings with 43 wins and just two defeats.
He admitted to still taking things “day by day” with the injury, but added: “The knee resisted a very tough battle against Djokovic the other day.
“Yesterday I didn’t have a terrible feeling, so that’s very positive news. Today I was able to compete with 100% another time, so that’s fantastic.”
The two players wrestled for ten minutes at the start of the second before Nadal could hold, yet twice in a row he left Ferrer stranded on the baseline to break for 2-0. Umbrellas began to go up, so did Nadal’s winner count. Nonetheless, he required another 11 minutes to hold for 4-1, as Ferrer saw four break points go by before Nadal passed him at the net in a 29-stroke rally. The match paused as some noisy protesters were ejected high in the stands, and perhaps that was why Nadal could not serve out the set. But he recovered to break to love to seal it 6-2.
Ferrer managed to peg back the champion in the first set and had chances to break in the third, but ultimately went down in three sets.
“To beat Rafael in clay court, I need to play more aggressive,” said Ferrer. “I need to finish the points at the net and to play my best tennis to beat him.
“But when the court is slower, it’s very difficult. He has more power than me with his shots, and it’s very difficult for to beat him.”