French OpenGrand Slams

Nadal Wins Historic 22nd Major at French Open

Nadal extended his record grand slam count to 22, beating Casper Ruud in the French Open final, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0. Ruud and Nadal had difficult moments in their tournament runs, but the Spaniard dismissed his challenger in straight-sets.

Rafael Nadal won his second grand slam of the season at Roland Garros, following his Australian Open victory earlier in January.

This extends his grand slam record in the men’s game to 22. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic both trail with 20 majors, as the race to become the GOAT edges in Nadal’s favour.

Zverev vs Nadal, 2022 French Open Semi-Finals

Just two days before the final, Nadal’s semi-final match against Alexander Zverev met a sudden and unfortunate end.

The previously agile and swift Zverev had to be wheeled out of Philippe Chatrier on a chair after tearing the ligaments in his right ankle. Returning on crutches, he conceded the match and was applauded by a sympathetic Parisian crowd after a 7-6, 6-6 score.

Nadal’s next opponent, Casper Ruud, broke into the top 10 in May and the Roland Garros final would be Ruud’s first match against Nadal with no prior encounters.

Ruud won his semi-final match against Marin Cilic, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, with a blend of power from the baseline and elegant moments of touch and feel, particularly on the drop-shot.

But going into his first slam final, no doubt Ruud would have needed time to adjust mentally. Nadal opened the match on his serve and held comfortably.

On Ruud’s first service game, perhaps feeling some nerves, he dashed the net, only for Nadal’s forehand to fire a blistering passing shot for a 2-0 lead.

nadal stretch forehand

Though Ruud broke back the next game, Nadal swiftly reasserted his dominance and broke again for 3-1.

Nadal closed out the first set, 6-3, by constantly attacking Ruud’s backhand. Expecting a change in direction that never came, Ruud would sometimes step in the wrong direction and lose time to set his feet for an effective groundstroke.

Nadal vs Rudd, 2022 French Open Final

Nadal kept pinning his opponent on the ad-side before using his topspin forehand to hit into open space for a winner. Nadal was pretty consistent from the line, while Ruud made some wild groundstroke shots, with 26 unforced errors to Nadal’s 18.

If he denied Nadal a foothold in the rally, Ruud had some success, using a complex and flat serve to keep the Spaniard back and quickly win the point with his forehand. But the longer the exchange went, the more Nadal came forward from his return position and commanded the rally with the heavy topspin from his forehand or the sharp angles from his backhand. Overall, Nadal made 37 winners to Ruud’s 18.

After winning the second set 6-3, all of Ruud’s defences seemed to crumble. Gaining confidence, and with Ruud’s groundstrokes steadily reducing in speed, Nadal had time to step onto his front foot and hit backhand winners into his opponent’s deuce side.

Whenever Nadal was pushed back, he increased the height of the ball to bide him some time and regain any lost ground. Nadal would wait until Ruud made an error or hit a short ball to pounce on. The Spaniard now increased his attacks to Ruud’s forehand, where he had left swathes of court undefended. Finally, at 0-5 on his first match-point, Nadal took an early backhand down the line, sealing his 22nd major.

Does Nadal’s grand slam victories this year portend further success at Wimbledon? Will Djokovic be able to regroup in time to win his 21st major instead? And how long will Casper Ruud remain a top 10 player and challenge the greats in key tournaments? Leave your comments below.

Alex Nulliah

My name is Alex Nulliah and I am a tennis writer from Bath. I enjoy writing about tennis, International Relations and anything else which takes my interest. At Exeter University I took a BA in History and an MA in Applied Security Strategy. I love playing tennis.

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27 Comments

    1. I’m here, just came back from watching live Nadal winning in one leg his 22nd GS. It is a shame what it is happening with this foot as he would have a huge chance to win at Wimbledon playing at this level.

      Anyway, hopefully the treatment works and we can enjoy Rafa for a couple more years.

      GOAT

      1. Be more realistic. He is not that hungry as you. The same was 1-2 years ago with Federer fans. Think about what the man has delivered for so long and be happy, he has still chances for normal life after tennis. 23. or 24. slam can cost him good life after tennis and he probably will want to have children then and children will not be happy with famous but disabled father.
        Maybe doctors can find something miraculous but (recall the story about Federer) nobody can turn the clock back.
        When I’m hearing Rafa’s talks, he is quite sober about this. Unlike fans. Fans always want more, because after tennis their heros will disappear from the public and you must not care about how their life looks like.

      2. I think he’s trying some new injection that stops the pain signals full stop rather than the current ones that wear off after a few hours.

      3. Right, Jonathan. But nobody knows, what is the risk and what could be the result. BTW – I think it’s false to call it “playing with numb foot” and Nadal himself explained it well and simple. The motoric nerves are intact or he would not be able to move. Only the sensitive nerves are disabled, so he doesn’t feel pain and the risk of say twisting the ankle is a bit higher. Media and fans are beating the story a bit up. Anti-fans are using this to diminish the achievement 😉

  1. The whole Nadal’s hard job was done before the final, against Djokovic and Zverev. Against Zverev Nadal had luck. Maybe he would survive but in the best case in 3 sets lasting close to 5 hours.
    But who could expect Nadal to deliver sich performance against Djokovic and Zverev?
    Ruud was more of a hitting partner, playing Nadal for the first time is not the same as watching him in TV 50 times or even hitting in practice.
    Ruud was clueless and maybe Rune would give Nadal better fight.

    It’s now interesting, if Nadal can make full flight in this season, winning Wimbledon and US Open. Would be kind of final coup in the battle for records. Should this go, Nadal should retire in full glory (what I wish him to happen). How long can he live with injections every day?

    1. It would be pretty ludicrous if he did, wouldn’t it? But then, the state men’s tennis is in these days, it really wouldn’t surprise me.

    1. Right, But you can take Nadal in Paris to 17 and he still wins 😉
      Well, Nadal just declared to plan to play Wimbledon, but it’s maybe only short-lived euphoria

  2. I understand that Federer said that Serena Williams is probably the GOAT of men and women. Give me a break Roger ! Rafa Nadal is the Goat. Federer and Serena are great, but Nadal is the King of tennis. Rafa could play ANYONE in the tennis world and beat them 8 out of 10 times. Someone like Rafa Nadal comes along once every 50 or so years !

    1. Too emotional for a man (if Robert tells about your gender). I would say 9,5 of 10 times and 71,5 instead of 50 years 😉 Don’t be that pumped. It’s not you. It’s Nadal. Or Federer. Or Djokovic. Not you 🙂

  3. Winning his 14 RG title is no easy feat considering issues he is having with his foot. While everyone applaud him for being a warrior playing through his pain and using injection to put his foot to ‘sleep’, I find this a bit tad greedy and selfish to boot. He is playing for glory and wanting to ensure his record last almost forever. I may sound like sore loser but honestly how many times has he pushed the envelope on using modern medicine to prolong his tennis career. His treatments are legal but deep down… can he enjoy his life pain free after he retires… only he will know.

    His opponent aren’t good enough to beat him, its their own fault for not playing well enough to beat him but is this fair? He is using reverse psychology tactic against his opponent, they don’t know how to play against him… is he injured should I go for my shots.. all the self doubt and questions starts to creep in. They ended up trying to go too much in their shots. Its a win win situation for him, if he wins… he is ultimate warrior/fighter, if he loses cause he is injured cannot play well.

    I lost a bit of respect for him since his AO22 win, all the story about I nearly quit tennis because of my foot. Yet you see him running after every ball like a 20 yr old. Such a good spin to his injury story, who doesn’t love this epic comeback. Again please pardon my comments if it comes across as sore loser or salty. I am seeing this from a very different perspective

    1. Hi Dippy! Nadal has always used gamesmanship. He was taking 35 sec on average to serve and not one ump called him on it. He is not ready to receive when his opponent is ready to serve. Not called on it. Before it was his knees for years! He is a player that gets under your skin. Love him or hate him, it’s been the same since the beginning. He ain’t my hero!

      1. Fairness is also not your hero 🙁
        Fans are often speaking so much and loud about the class. They mostly or always mean only the class of their heroes.
        I doubt, Federer would be happy to know this kind of his fans.

      2. Hey Sue,

        How have you been, long time since we chat. Hopefully we can chat come Laver Cup. As for Nadal, next!!! 🤪

    2. Yes, you sound indeed as sore loser. Maybe more – you are one 😉 You better apply your psychology story to Federer, who was often playing with bad back or bad knee. The same applies to all other greats and not only greats.
      Yes, you see this from very unfair perspective, only because Nadal was able to make more slams.
      Why don’t you scream – Go Roger! We believe! In 5 or 10 slams more.
      Sorry, this is completely idiotic 🙁

      1. Thank you very much for your comment 😊 Its ok if Roger dont think I am not worthy to be his fan.

      2. Roger certainly don’t mind you. But you are not alone. There is plenty of this kind of fans. Maybe Federer is not aware.

    3. The time between points is a joke.

      Zverev was ready to serve while Nadal was picking loose thread off a towel in the corner. The umpires should step in, but too weak.

      1. Right. But I can hardly understand, why (given no ump reaction) players are not finding own tricks. Like sitting longer on the bank at changeover. Or serving into empty field and wait, what the umps will do.
        A simple solution at the level of ATP rules would be to stop the thing with towels. Towels only at changeover. During the game no towels, everyone has a sweat sleeve on their forearms. It’s also probably allowed to have two on every arm and exchange them at every changeover.
        BTW – Nadal is not the only one with extending time before returning. like Delpo walking 0,5 kmh or Murray doing lots of crazy things.
        BTW – I have watched Swiatek vs. Gauff final. Swiatek was regularly giving Coco signals with her hand, he is not yet ready and this was obviously disturbing. I guess, this is even more disturbing than the towel acrobatics.

      1. I am well, following tennis randomly. I hope you are well. Eager to get whole gang back online. Jonathan – cant wait to chat with you soon too.

  4. BTW – I also don’t like the another media story about Nadal winning on 1 leg. Nadal has exactly explained what happens with his foot and it’s enough. Media guys and fans of him or his anti-fans should better keep silent.

  5. Anybody knows, who and when introduced towels onto the court? As I’m quite old and was following tennis in times of Borg. McEnroe, Boris Becker … I can’t recall towels on court. I guess, towels were still not there, when Federer started his career. Or I’m wrong?
    These days I see 18 y. old boys using towels regularly – a kind of automatic reflex. The opponent has made double fault and changes sides to do the next serve. The returner has done nothing (maybe some before-return-antics or few short steps) but must go to the corner and touch the face with the towel for half a second without a trace of sweat on his face.
    Nadal is very special in this aspect, as he sweats like a hell even before the match started. But I guess, there are probably simple treatments to diminish sweating, so the sleeve is enough.

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