Nadal wins record 10th French Open crown

Wednesday 14th June 2017 07:00 EDT
 
 

Rafael Nadal won his record 10th French Open title by dominating 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the final on Sunday. No other man or woman has won 10 championships at the same major in the Open era, which began in 1968.

The 31-year-old Nadal was overwhelmingly good from start to finish against Wawrinka - and over the past two weeks en route to La Decima, Spanish for `10th'. Not only did Nadal win every set he played in the tournament, he dropped a total of only 35 games, the second fewest by any man on the way to any title at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era with all matches being best-of-five-sets.

Along with improving to 10-0 in finals at Roland Garros, Nadal increased his career haul to 15 Grand Slam trophies, breaking a tie with Pete Sampras for second place in the history of men's tennis, behind only rival Roger Federer's 18.

It marked a stirring return to the top form for Nadal in his favourite event and on his favourite surface – clay. A year ago in Paris, Nadal surprisingly withdrew before the third round because of a wrist injury. Finally back to full strength in the off season, Nadal returned to work, reconstructing his forehand and redoubling his efforts to get back to his best. Well, he sure proved to be precisely that on Sunday.

Wawrinka is no slouch; he owns three major titles, including one from Roland Garros, and had never lost a Grand Slam final. But a five-set semifinal win on Friday over Andy Murray must have taken something out of the 32-year-old from Switzerland. His shots didn't have their usual verve, his legs their usual spring. After one point on Sunday, Wawrinka bent over, leaning one arm on his racket and resting the other on a knee.

Nadal has that way of wearing down opponents. On this day, he was nearly perfect. He won all 12 service games, saving the lone break point he faced, and made a mere 12 unforced errors.

Bopanna- Dabrowski win mixed doubles crown

In his 14th year on the Tour, Rohan Bopanna, in partnership with Gaby Dabrowski (who became the first Canadian woman to win a Grand Slam), got the monkey off his back and became only the fourth Indian after Bhupathi, Leander Paes and Sania Mirza to win a Grand Slam. Like most things Bopanna, the win came the hard way. The seventh seeds saved two championship points to beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Colombia’s Robert Farah.

For all his obvious talent and consistency on the doubles tour, the spotlight has rarely been on Bopanna. For long a sideshow in Indian tennis’ soap opera of selection fiascos and camps, he has had to play catch-up and grow steadily. However, the 37-year-old - India’s highest-ranked doubles player at 22 - has let the racquet do the talking lately.

Bopanna started the year with the Chennai Open title with Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and won April’s Monte Carlo Masters with Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas. Incidentally, his last four Masters finals have all come on clay, including April’s Monte Carlo title. Bopanna, who admittedly didn’t like the surface during the initial years, has said that he has learned to adapt and has begun to enjoy clay in the past couple of years.

Relieved as he may be after checking one box, Bopanna’s next, arguably bigger, challenge would be winning the men’s doubles title. After all, the mixed event is played officially at only the four Grand Slams and the Olympics, and is perceived by many as an afterthought. Only two years ago, Paes went on a rampage with Martina Hingis, collecting all Grand Slam mixed doubles titles except French Open, which they won in 2016. The defending champions were knocked out in the first round this year, another instance of the 43-year-old Paes’ waning powers. But while Paes won the last of his eight men’s doubles Grand Slam in 2013, Bopanna contested his only final seven years ago.

However, one can count on the pragmatic Bangalore man to draw confidence from his achievement and kick into another gear. In any case, a French Open mixed doubles title goes a long way in establishing him as the country’s go-to doubles player.

French crown for Ostapenko

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko stunned third seed Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday to win her maiden Grand Slam title and become the lowest-ranked champion in French Open history. World number 47 Ostapenko is the first unseeded player to lift the Roland Garros title in the Open era and the first Latvian major champion in history.

The 20-year-old is the youngest French Open winner since Iva Majoli in 1997 and the first player to win a debut tour-level title at a Slam since Gustavo Kuerten in Paris that same year. “I am really happy. I have no words. It was my dream,” said Ostapenko, who will rocket to 12th in the rankings.

She trailed by a set and 3-0 but launched a memorable comeback with a remarkable display of fearless shot making. “I was just trying to stay aggressive. A couple of games, everything turned my way. I was 3-0 down but I was fighting for every point. I still cannot believe it. It was my dream always. When I was a child I was watching. It's amazing to play here. I just enjoy it so much.”

For Halep, bidding to join compatriots Ilie Nastase and Virginia Ruzici as major winners, it was a second final defeat in four years at Roland Garros. The 25-year-old would have replaced Angelique Kerber as world number one with victory, but Halep was overpowered as Ostapenko blasted 54 winners to the Romanian's 10.


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