Limpag: Nadal: Simply amazing

·2 min read

Down 3-1 in the second set and after Casper Ruud had just broken Rafael Nadal for the second time, one of the commentators, John McEnroe I think—pointed out that at that point in the match, none had been able to hold serve at love.

Nadal, the 21-time grand slam champion, then promptly held his serve at love to make it 3-2, prompting one of the commentators to reply to McEnroe, “there you go!”

Rafa did it. The 36-year-old, who was already the oldest to reach the Roland Garros final, strung up five straight games to win the second set, 6-3, and move a win away from a record-extending 22nd grand slam. Ruud, who was only three years old when Rafa made his pro debut and was only seven when the Spaniard won his first French Open, couldn’t find an answer in the third set.

At one point, McEnroe was already offering pointers on how to return Rafa’s serve when he was already up 3-0 in the third with the young finalist unable to find any answers. There were times when Ruud, a Nadal academy product, had the upperhand in the rallies, but Rafa somehow managed to find a way.

“He’d just re-set the rally,” one of the commentators said after a forehand near the net sent Ruud guessing the other way.

I wanted Ruud, who prior to the finals could name every single player Nadal defeated in his 13 French Open champion, to win a set or even two to extend the match. But against his idol and mentor, the 23-year-old looked every bit the student he was.

I stayed on for the trophy presentation and unlike in the Australian Open, when he tallied Grand Slam title No. 21, there was no post-match interview. But, as McEnroe pointed out, Nadal was more than used to it with 13 previous trophy presentations and answered all the questions that were unasked.

One of the most important statements that I think he said was when he pointed out that as long as he is able, he will fight to the last point and that he’s looking forward to defending the title next year.

That’s important because just a month ago in the Italian Open, concerns about his foot raised questions on whether he could compete in France.

Now, he has three weeks to rest before Wimbledon and whether he joins a few tuneup events remains to be seen. What is interesting though is that at 36, the Spaniard can go for the calendar slam.

At 36! Wow!

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