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2013 French Open Men’s Final: Nadal claims record 8th Roland Garros championship

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nadal_champFalling to his back at the end of it all, Rafael Nadal confirmed yet again his status as the King of Clay claiming a record 8th championship at Roland Garros – the first man in history to do so at the slams. The 3rd seed was the prohibitive favourite coming in to the final and defeated compatriot David Ferrer in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. It was scoreline that in some ways belied the fight that Ferrer put up but Nadal was too often the stronger player and the gutsy Ferrer often faltered at the big moments in his first appearance at a slam final. This was Nadal’s 4th straight championships here in Paris, his second such streak having triumphed here between 2005 and 2008 before being famously upset in 2009 by Robin Soderling. That remains his only loss on the red clay here as he became the “winningest” player with 59 wins moving ahead of the great Roger Federer.

Nadal was understandably pleased with his triumph and thanked his family, team and his fans for their support. He recalled the difficult layoff period but was thrilled to return to Roland Garros and achieve this 8th championship which was unimaginable to him. He gave credit to Ferrer too, for making his first slam final. Ferrer repaid the compliment calling Nadal the 'best'. He was happy to have made his first final and stated that he would all he could to come back next year.

Both players began quite comfortably, showing few nerves in holding their respective opening service games.  But that proved to be a false start, pardon the pun, as the errors then started coming through. Nadal forced a couple of them off Ferrer to generate a brace of breakpoints and Ferrer rather generously gifted Nadal the game blazing a forehand well wide. Nadal normally seizes the moment and drives home the advantage, but some loose errors off both wings gave Ferrer the chance to level the scores. Level he did, on his second chance, as Nadal hit a weak backhand into the net. The cagey tennis continued as Ferrer managed to hold on to lead 3-2. This though was the moment that Nadal decided to step it up a gear. Suddenly playing with increased intensity and hitting his forehand with greater authority, he held to 3-3, before setting up break points at 15-40 on the Ferrer serve. Ferrer responded with forehands of his own to take it to deuce, but hit the subsequent forehand a hair long; although Hawkeye (not used on clay) called it in; to give Nadal another bite at the cherry. Nadal did not look back on this occasion, digging out a backhand pass to convert the break in the crucial 7th game. Ferrer is a dogged trier, and he once again attempted to restore level pegging, but Nadal wiped out the breakpoint opportunity with a wonderfully whipped forehand down the line, before a cannily placed second serve and an ace up the middle consolidated the break. The force was very much with the 7 time champion at this stage and he broke the Ferrer serve once again to seal the opening set 6-3

Nadal began the second set exactly the way he finished the first. He fought off a break point to hold serve before setting his sights on the Ferrer delivery. The defending champion broke his compatriot at the very first opportunity, with a rifle like forehand down the line that left Ferrer scrambling and Nadal very much in control at a set and a break up. With a steady drizzle threatening to perhaps temporarily halt proceedings, Nadal piled it on even more in an attempt to further distance himself from Ferrer. Raining down even more crushing forehands, Nadal consolidated the break to lead 3-0. The 4th game was now clearly a must win for the 4th seed and after a long struggle against a rampant Rafa, finally put a halt to the seven game Nadal streak and put himself on the scoreboard. Spurred on Ferrer pulled out his aggressive best to give himself four chances to break the Rafa serve, but Nadal responded each time, like the clay court master he is, to deny his opponent the chance of a comeback. Long games in tennis tend to be significant in that they provide a fillip to the winner and rob the loser of any momentum. Nadal validated this breaking Ferrer for the second time in the set to give himself the chance to serve it out. There was a minor break in play as a result of some crowd trouble in the stands, but it was efficiently dealt with and the match was allowed to continue. Against the run of play, Ferrer broke the Nadal serve, but it was too little too late as Nadal promptly returned the compliment breaking right back to take the second set 6-2 and with it a strangle hold on the final.

David Ferrer was now left with the onerous task of recovering from a two set to love deficit. It is a task he has accomplished five times over his career, but it is also an accomplishment that has been achieved only once against Nadal and that by the great Roger Federer in Miami nearly a decade ago in Miami. It showed as Rafa continued his assault on the hapless Ferrer breaking away to a 2-0 lead early in the third. Ferrer made a dogged effort and refused to bow down as he broke right back to extend the contest and give the crowd a little more to cheer about. The gutsy Spaniard then held to even the set 2-2 before Rafa arrested the momentum by holding his serve with a couple of wide aces to lead 3-2. Ferrer was now playing with the freedom that comes from being behind on the scoreboard, and was troubling Rafa with an impressive array of sideline to sideline shots but still struggled to take advantage of the big moments. Flirting with the lines, he missed on the break point on Nadal’s serve and then double faulted at break point on his own to give Rafa the chance to serve for his 8th French Open crown.  Serve it out he did and he sank to his back at the end of it.

Final Scores:

R.Nadal d D.Ferrer 6/3, 6/2, 6/3

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