Rafael Nadal Beats Casper Ruud to Win French Open Title for 14th Time

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 5, 2022

PARIS, FRANCE - June 5: Rafael Nadal of Spain plays Casper Ruud  (not seen) of Norway in the menâs final match during the French Open tennis tournament, Roland âGarros in Paris, France on June 5, 2022. (Photo by Mine Kasapoglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Mine Kasapoglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The King of Clay has done it again.

Rafael Nadal earned his 14th career French Open title with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 win Sunday over Casper Ruud in the men's singles final.

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

King of Clay x 14 👑<a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> remains undefeated in Paris finals, conquering Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 for a 14th title<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> <a href="https://t.co/GctcC17Ah8">pic.twitter.com/GctcC17Ah8</a>

Nadal won the final 11 games to clinch the straight-sets victory.

No other player in men's tennis history has more than nine major titles at any single major location. The 36-year-old now has 22 career Grand Slam titles, two clear of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most all-time after winning back-to-back major tournaments.

Ruud was the first Norwegian to reach a Grand Slam final, but he couldn't keep up with Nadal during Sunday's championship at Roland Garros.

Nadal made it look easy in the first set, securing two breaks on the way to a 6-3 win. Though there were plenty of mistakes early, he kept hitting winners to shut down long rallies:

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

Rafa rocket ™️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> <a href="https://t.co/qSnYtiBkYk">pic.twitter.com/qSnYtiBkYk</a>

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

Chatrier + <a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> = 👇<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> <a href="https://t.co/fmfvb0zXM2">pic.twitter.com/fmfvb0zXM2</a>

Neither player was immune to sloppy play throughout the match as each made nine unforced errors in the first set alone.

Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 @christophclarey

There have been some ugly shots early in this final

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

The level here is...not their best.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a>

Nadal was broken to love during the second set, with his third double-fault putting him behind 3-1. Ruud still couldn't take advantage of the mistakes, and Nadal stormed back to win five straight games to take the set 6-3.

The return play was especially impressive as Nadal barely let anything past him:

ATP Tour @atptour

He's everywhere 🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️<a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/rolandgarros?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rolandgarros</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> <a href="https://t.co/7MtNP3p5eQ">pic.twitter.com/7MtNP3p5eQ</a>

Nadal earned three straight breaks on the way to the second-set win.

The No. 5 seed continued the momentum with a third-set bagel to close out the victory in just two hours, 18 minutes. He won 55 percent of return points in the match, allowing zero aces while going 8-of-16 on break opportunities.

This was the first time Nadal had faced Ruud, who considers the Spanish star his childhood idol. The No. 8 seed trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca and was looking forward to this showdown.

"I guess this is perfect timing and it was worth the wait," he told reporters before the match. "To finally play him in a Grand Slam final will be a special moment for me."

The 23-year-old wasn't able to pull off the upset, but it will certainly be a memorable steppingstone for the up-and-comer who completed the best tournament of his career. It should make the world No. 8 a major threat in the sport.

Nadal remains nearly impossible to beat on this surface, however, and he is now halfway to a Grand Slam in 2022 after his win at the Australian Open. He has not confirmed if he will compete at Wimbledon later this month, but it might be tough to turn down after his hot start to the year.