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Ruthless Nadal breaks records at French Open

ESPN staff
June 9, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Rafael Nadal claimed his eighth Roland Garros title in nine visits to Paris © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal's love affair with the French Open reached new heights on Sunday as the Spaniard sealed an eighth victory by beating David Ferrer in straight sets - and broke the record for most match wins at Roland Garros and triumphs at a single grand slam.

Nadal has only lost one match in Paris in nine visits, and the former world No. 1 was too strong for his fellow countryman in a 6-3 6-2 6-3 victory to claim the trophy with his record-breaking 59th win on the red dirt of Roland Garros.

The 27-year-old has surpassed the achievement of seven wins at a grand slam (Wimbledon) previously shared by Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, and continues his remarkable return from a seven-month injury lay-off with his seventh tournament win in nine since February.

Rafael Nadal's roll of honour

  • Australian Open - 2009

    French Open - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

    Wimbledon - 2008, 2010

    US Open - 2010

Ferrer had yet to lose a set at Roland Garros this year having sneaked under the radar as the fourth seed, but battling against arguably the greatest clay court player of all-time, and a head-to-record of 19 losses from 24, Ferrer always had his work cut out.

Participating in his maiden grand slam final, Ferrer showed no signs of nerves though by holding to love in the opening game. However, Ferrer dropped concentration after Nadal quickly levelled by handing the break to his opponent with a wide forehand.

Nadal was expected to push on with the break, but Ferrer immediately hit back in superb fashion as he went toe-to-toe with Nadal from the baseline to force the champion to buckle with a low shot into the net.

In his thrilling five-set win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, the forehand of Nadal was too strong for the Serb to deal with. But the trusty weapon of Nadal was misfiring early on as Ferrer was equal to it, and when the latter was under threat once again on his serve, this time he held to move 3-2 in front.

The intensity soon returned from Nadal as he broke the resistance of Ferrer to go 4-3 in front, and with powerful ground strokes and accurate serves bagged the opening set.

Ferrer missed his opportunity to break in the first game of the second set, and instead it was Nadal who seized the initiative - thanks to a crunched backhand down the line and a forehand in similar fashion down the opposite end of the court - to race into a 3-0 lead.

The confidence of Ferrer fell rather like the drizzle of rain on Court Philippe Chatrier after the fifth game - as Nadal flashed a superb backhand beyond Ferrer at the net after a 29-shot rally en route to saving four break points to make it 4-1.

As Nadal prepared to serve for the second set at 5-1, play was interrupted because of a protester bursting onto court with a flare, and with his rhythm disturbed Ferrer closed the gap to three games at 5-2.

However, the champion quickly refocused to pile the pressure on Ferrer and opened up a two-sets lead to stand on the verge of more French Open glory.

When Nadal went 2-0 in front in the third set, the crowd were resigned to the 'King of Clay' closing in on another tournament victory. But not Ferrer, who refused to give in and fought back to remind Nadal he was still in the match.

However, Nadal sealed another break when Ferrer double-faulted, and history was made as he wrapped up the match with a forehand whilst off-balance to claim a 12th major and rule supreme at Roland Garros.

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