Rafael Nadal defies time and Casper Ruud to win his 14th French Open title | French Open 2022

In recent years, as he gets closer and closer to the twilight of his career, Rafael Nadal continuously discussed his advancing age with utter contempt. While many see its silver lining in its maturity, he sees none.

It gradually took away one of its greatest assets, its athletics. It became his body, which had far too many wounds, even more prone to them. Anyway, for 20 years he has approached his career with the same positive attitude, the same calm, the same acceptance and struggle, and in the process has continued to do wonders for so long in it.

After fifteen days in which he was able to claim his best tennis only when he desperately needed it, Nadal split Casper Ruud even in the absence of his top level for much of the match, winning the final 11 games to clinch a remarkable, record-stretching 14-. a French Open title: 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.

Nadal also extended his men’s all-time Grand Slam title record to 22, creating a remarkable gap between himself and his two biggest rivals, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who both hold 20 major titles.

Two days after his 36th birthday, and 17 years after his first victory here as a precocious 19-year-old, Nadal has now won long enough to also stand as the oldest French Open men’s champion in history, surpassing the 50-year record aron. of his compatriot, Andrés Gimeno, who was 34 years old. He is now halfway to the Grand Slam for the first time in his career after also winning the Australian Open in January.

The build-up to the tournament was dominated by speculation about Nadal’s future after his chronic foot injury recurred at the Italian Open. He was utterly miserable that night in Rome and spent the past two weeks hesitantly talking about the long-term prospects for his foot without a constant medical solution.

The 14 French Open titles by Rafael Nadal.
The 14 French Open titles by Rafael Nadal. Photo: STF / AFP / Getty Images

After noticing throughout the week that he would give an explanation of his current physical condition only after the tournament, Nadal spoke extensively about it in his press conference. He said that, physically, his worst moment was after his second-round match against Corentin Moutet when he could barely walk afterwards.

From that point on, he played the rest of the tournament with the nerves in his foot under anesthesia. “I played with injections on the nerves to put my foot to sleep, and that’s why I was able to play during these two weeks because I don’t have any sensations on my foot, because my doctor was able to put anesthetic injections on my nerves. That removes the feeling on my foot, ”he said.

Nadal described the process of playing with an insensitive foot as “extreme conditions,” explaining that he took a few injections before each match and the process carries elevated chances of turning an ankle or becoming another injury.

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Nadal says he will undergo radiofrequency ablation on the affected nerves, which “burns the nerve slightly” in an attempt to find a long-term solution. The procedure marks a significant fork in the road for him because if it doesn’t work he will be forced to think seriously about his future and consider significant surgery. He says he will be at Wimbledon later this month if his body performs.

“It simply came to our notice then. If that works, I will continue, ”he said. “If that doesn’t work, then it’s a different story. And then I will answer myself, I will ask myself if I am ready to do an important thing without being sure that things are going the right way, for example. This is a major surgery that does not guarantee that I will be able to be competitive again and that it will take a long time to return. “

The result of his efforts has only strengthened what has been clear for more than a decade: Nadal at Roland Garros is the closest thing in tennis to untouchable. In a sport filled with such a deep field of other disciplined and professional rivals, the level of dominance he has unlocked, the gap between him and the rest even after so long, remains astonishing.

In the final, the difference in quality between the two players was too great for Ruud, who was unable to permanently hurt Nadal with any part of his game. Under minimal pressure, Nadal established his predictable pattern.

During the match, he destroyed the Ruud backpack with his heavy pispin forearm. Ruud became locked deeper and deeper in his back corner, and most of the time he was unable to escape.

As Nadal slammed his final back winner, he held his head in his hands and was overcome with emotion. During his winning speech, Nadal said: “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I will keep fighting to keep going.”

In total uncertainty, it’s worth tasting a view that has limited time remaining, regardless of how his next vital weeks turn out: Nadal is once again navigating a path to success.

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