“Casper, it was a pleasure to play with you in a final. You still have a great career ahead of you, that was the next important step here and I am very happy for you and your family,” said Nadal, who ultimately gave Ruud no chance and won 11 games in a row. “I would like to thank my team, without you I would not have been able to do everything, there were many difficult moments, without you I would have had to stop.” It is difficult to describe his feelings. “I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I will try to keep fighting.”
Rudd bowed to his great model at the awards ceremony. “Congratulations, Rafa, it’s your 14th win here, we know what kind of champion you are,” said the Norwegian, who will be the new sixth seed in the ATP rankings from Monday. “Now I know what it will be like when I play with you in the final. I am not your first victim here. You have always been an inspiration to me and we hope you will continue. I also hope to be able to play several more finals with my team.”
Only two players can dissuade Nadal in Paris
Only four years since 2005 there has been no winning Nadal in Paris. In 2009 and 2015, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka won, in 2016 and 2021 Novak Djokovic won. Only two players managed to defeat Nadal in Paris. Defending champion Djokovic, who was ousted this time in the quarter-finals, made it through last year’s semi-finals and in the 2015 quarter-finals. Prior to that, Nadal had to make way for Robin Soderling who reached the last 16 in 2009. In 2016, gave Nadal the victory in the third round
After all, Rudd still had the honor of being the first Norwegian in a Grand Slam final. A ninth title on the tour and success against his great role model Nadal, who trained at his academy in Mallorca as a teenager, remained elusive. In the past 13 months, the 23-year-old has won six championships on clay, but he has also reached the hardcourt final in Miami. Father and coach Christian Rudd, No. 39, was the best Norwegian player in history. His son erased that record long ago.
Another big performance in Paris?
Nadal, who helps Russian Daniil Medvedev return to the top of the world rankings with a win, will move from fifth to fourth in the standings and consolidate his lead in the “race”. The big question after his 14th victory in Paris is whether the 36-year-old Spaniard, the biggest clay-court winner in history, will return to Roland Garros next year. He himself had sparked rumors of a possible farewell performance with comments after the quarter-final match against Djokovic.
“I play this tournament because we get things done and I am ready to play the tournament. But I don’t know what will happen next,” said Nadal, who has a chronic foot injury, Muller-Weiss syndrome. Just three weeks ago, Nadal could barely walk at the end of a match At the tournament in Rome.” “What I have is on my feet. So, if we can’t find an improvement or a simple fix for it, it will be very difficult for me,” Nadal said. “Of course I will continue to fight to find a solution to this, but we haven’t found any yet.”
Nadal dominated the match from the start
There was no indication of any problems in the duel with Rod. In the semi-final against Alexander Zverev, who twisted his ankle and had to surrender, Nadal was on the field for not two sets against the German for 3:13 hours, 18 minutes longer than seed Ruud in his team. Semi-final success in four sets against Croatian Marin Cilic (20). The Spaniard advanced 2-0 and Rod broke again. After 50 minutes, the Spaniard worked to lead the group 1-0.
In the second set, Rudd was under pressure in the first service game, but took the lead after defending against three break balls. Apparently a wake-up call for the 23-year-old, because suddenly the pendulum swung in the direction of the Norwegian. Nadal gave up his serve in favor of Rod 1:3, but then pushed the pace and didn’t allow the Norwegian to win the match anymore. While Rudd couldn’t pass his serve anymore, Nadal got the next five matches and thus the second round. The third set then became a show of strength from Nadal, who defined his 14th victory in Paris 17 years after his first.
“It feels like home”
Nadal, who eliminated a total of four top ten players on his way to the title, will receive an additional €2.2 million in reward for his efforts, increasing his career prize pool to more than $130 million. But all that money no longer matters to Nadal, who has lived up to his reputation as perhaps the sport’s greatest fighter of all time. “I never thought that I would be able to play in the final again here at the age of 36. It cost me so much energy,” the Spaniard said. “Thank you to everyone who made this tournament possible. It’s the best championship in the world, it’s like it’s in his home.” Perhaps next year he will return to his “living room.”