The Spaniard’s 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 win Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka cemented his place in tennis history by winning the ultimate clay title 10 times, and is now 2nd on the all-time list of grand slam winners; ahead of Pete Sampras, but chasing rival Roger Federer on 18 titles.
It seemed that Nadal’s closest challenger could well be Dominic Thiem, who ousted him in the Barcelona Open. But the Austrian had no answer to Nadal when they came across each other in the semi-final in Paris. Wawrinka, meanwhile, fended off a resurgent Andy Murray in a court battle lasting nearly 5 hours before succeeding.
Nadal, who has only ever lost 2 matches in Paris, said afterwards at the ceremony “I play my best in all events but the feeling I have here is impossible to describe and you can’t compare it. The nerves and adrenaline I feel on this court is impossible to compare. It’s the most important event in my career.”
With Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Viktoria Azarenka all missing this year’s French Open, it gave a chance to the newcomers and upcomers to upstage the regulars and create a shock in Paris, but nobody foresaw a rank outsider taking home the title.
Step forward, unseeded Jelena Ostapenko, who at the age of 20, came from behind to defeat 5th seed Simona Halep – 4-6,6-4,6-3.
25 year-old, Halep, had all the experience needed to claim her first grand slam title, having been a runner-up before.
But the Latavian, ranked 47th in the world, played her shots to land her first ever title on tour, and join an illustrious list on the winners board.
“I cannot believe I am champion at 20 years old. I love you guys. It’s so amazing to be here,” she said afterwards.
Ostapenko picks up a cheque for £1.5 million and moves up to 12 on the world rankings.