Telegraph Sport captured this image of an emotional Nadal after his victory:
After a seven-month layoff from professional tennis, Nadal proved that he’s back and looking to be remembered as the best to ever live by winning Roland Garros for a record-extending eighth time.
There was a scary moment when a spectator rushed the court wielding a flare. Fortunately, security stopped him immediately.
There was a light rain falling at points, but Rafa had no issues staying focused and systematically destroying his fellow Spaniard.
Due to a powerful serve and ability to cover the court with ease, Nadal lived up to his billing as the King of Clay.
The BBC's Alastair Eykyn put Nadal's impressive feat into perspective:
Rafa Nadal tears up the history books. 1st man to win 8 titles at 1 GSlam. Major title No12 takes him clear of Borg & Laver, level w Emerson— Alastair Eykyn (@5LiveRugby) June 9, 2013
ESPN Stats & Info also touched on Nadal's pure dominance at the French Open:
Rafael Nadal improves to 59-1 all-time in the French Open. The 59 career match wins are the most in event history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2013
Ferrer put up a strong fight in the early going, but the challenger was simply no match for the defending champion, especially on this surface.
The 31-year-old Ferrer was making his first appearance in a Grand Slam final after competing in 42 major tournaments and earning the No. 5 ranking in the world.
While it was a great story for the veteran, his speedy court coverage and fast-paced style of play were only able to fluster Nadal at the onset of the match. He went off the rails early in the second set and just wasn’t able to recover.
With this victory, Rafa becomes the first men's player in the Open era to win eight championships at one Grand Slam event, surpassing Pete Sampras and Roger Federer’s shared record of seven at Wimbledon.
How They Got There
As the No. 3 seed in this tournament, it was widely projected that Rafa would participate in a thrilling semifinals clash with Novak Djokovic—the top seed at Roland Garros.
After beating out Daniel Brands, Martin Klizan, Fabio Fognini, Kei Nishikori and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, Nadal earned the chance to face the Djoker.
The pair certainly exceeded lofty expectations and provided fans with much more excitement, engaging in a nearly five-hour, five-set epic match that showcased both competitors’ skills and pure strength of will.
In the end, Nadal emerged from this instant classic with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 9-7 victory on Friday. The gritty battle with Nole certainly prepared Nadal for anything Ferrer could possibly throw at him in the finals, considering the other half of the bracket featured a much easier road.
Ferrer, the No. 4 seed, was able to advance in straight sets all the way through the semifinals against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, where he won 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.
Will Rafa be remembered as the greatest ever?
Heading into the finals, Ferrer played about six hours fewer than Nadal did—Ferrer’s six matches lasted approximately 11 hours, while Rafa’s took approximately 17. It's a surprising stat, but one that didn’t end up helping the challenger.
Ferrer eliminated Marinko Matosevic, Albert Montanes, Feliciano Lopez, Kevin Anderson and Tommy Robredo before the showdown with Tsonga.
His run through Roland Garros will not soon be forgotten, but Ferrer was clearly no match for the King of Clay on Championship Sunday.