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Nadal Makes Major History At Roland Garros; Beats Ferrer In Final

Paris, France

Nadal, Bolt© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal became the first man to win the same major eight times. Usain Bolt presented Nadal the Roland Garros trophy.

A year ago, Rafael Nadal surpassed Bjorn Borg for the most titles at Roland Garros

Today in Paris, Nadal made even greater history, becoming the first man to win the same major tournament eight times after defeating countryman David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in heavy conditions Sunday. Nadal is also the first ATP World Tour to win a major in nine straight years.

“The feeling on court was great. The match[es] against David are always difficult,” Nadal said. “I think the score is much easier than what the match was today. I think for moments I played great. I think a few moments in the match, I played at very, very high level.

“Eight times here is a lot. I never thought about that. But I will keep practising with the same passion and intensity to bring my tennis to the highest level possible.”

Read Set-By-Set Analysis 

In triumphing, Nadal broke a tie with six other players for the most titles at a single Grand Slam event (see chart below). The Mallorcan captured his 12th major trophy, moving into a third place tie with Roy Emerson on the all-time list. He was presented the Coupe des Mousquetaires by six-time Olympic gold medallist and track superstar Usain Bolt. Tears filled Nadal's eyes as Spain's national anthem was played.

Player Grand Slam Event Years Won Titles
Rafael Nadal Roland Garros 2005-08, 2010-2013 8
Richard Sears US Open 1881-87* 7
William Renshaw Wimbledon 1881-86, 1889 7
Bill Larned US Open 1901-02, 1907-11* 7
Bill Tilden US Open 1920-25, 1929 7
Pete Sampras Wimbledon 1993-95, 1997-2000 7
Roger Federer Wimbledon 2003-07, 2009, 2012 7

*Challenge round played through 1911 at US Open

The 27-year-old Nadal, who celebrated his birthday this past Monday, has made a dream return to the ATP World Tour this season, following a seven-month layoff with a left knee injury from July 2012 to February 2013. Nadal has won 43 of the 45 matches he’s played, reaching the final at all nine events he’s contested and winning a Tour-leading seven titles. 

“[It was] a very emotional, very important victory for me. This remained the step after the comeback [from] the injury,” said Nadal. “I won [at] a 250 first, then a 500, then a Masters 1000, so the Grand Slam remained.  It happened today, and it's a big personal satisfaction that it happened. A lot of people helped me a lot to be back here today. I will not say everyone because I will forget, but because of them, today here I am with this. That means a lot more to me.”

Watch Final Highlights

This year, Nadal has earned the most Emirates ATP Rankings points of any player, putting himself in contention to challenge top-ranked Novak Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking. For the duration of the season, Nadal has just 45 points coming off at Wimbledon, while Djokovic needs to defend 6,800 points.

Nadal, FerrerNadal improved to 20-4 against Ferrer in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, posting his 9th straight win and fourth this year over the first-time Grand Slam finalist. It was the first all-Spanish major final since 2002 Roland Garros (Costa d. Ferrero). Nadal has won his past 13 matches over Spanish opposition and improved to 96-14 overall against his countrymen.

Ferrer was looking to become the oldest man to win a Grand Slam title since Andre Agassi at the Australian Open in 2003. Prior to the final, the 31 year old had not lost a set. Ferrer dropped to 37-10 on the season.

“To beat Rafael [on a] clay court, I need to play more aggressive,” said Ferrer. “I need to finish the points at the net and play my best tennis to beat him. But when the court is slower, it's very difficult. He has more power than me with his shots and it's very difficult to beat him.”

Coming into the encounter, the fourth-seeded Ferrer had the superior return numbers, but Nadal, the No. 3 seed, created more opportunities by winning 54 per cent of his receiving points. He broke Ferrer eight times and battled through a couple lapses in concentration, one related to a protestor who approached the court with a flare towards the end of the second set.

Nadal went on to claim victory in two hours and 16 minutes. He finished with 35 winners to 25 unforced errors and won 13 of his 17 points at net. Ferrer was only able to convert three of his 12 break point chances.

Editor's Note: Frenchman Max Decugis won eight Roland Garros titles in 1903-04, 1907-09, 1912-14. But the French championships did not invite international players to compete at the tournament until 1925.

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