WATCH: Rafa makes history, once again, in Paris

6-3, 6-3, 6-0.

On June 5, 2022, those numbers add up to 22, as Rafael Nadal extended his lead over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in their Grand Slam title race to two. In the process, he won Roland Garros for an incomparable 14th time, yet again living up to his moniker as the King of Clay.

Put it this way: if you only count Rafa’s French Open titles, he would be tied for fourth on the list of men’s Grand Slam singles champions.

But with 22 majors, Nadal’s nickname needed to be reconsidered: the King of Tennis.


The definition of "fuggedaboutit" in a French dictionary: Rafael Nadal in a Roland Garros final.

The definition of "fuggedaboutit" in a French dictionary: Rafael Nadal in a Roland Garros final.

On June 5, 2005, Casper Ruud was six years old, and Nadal won his first title on the terre battue. Seventeen years later, Nadal is 112-3 at the French Open, and 14-0 in tournament finals.

“I don't know what can happen in the future, but I'm going to keep fighting to try and keep going,” said Nadal, who has won the year's first two Grand Slam titles, but whose participation at Wimbledon is in serious question.

Ruud may one day lift the trophy Rafa has seen more often than many people exercise in a year. But on this day, he was, if not a fan, a perfect foil for what Nadal does so well.


With a rock-solid but unspectacular baseline game, Ruud rarely put Nadal outside his comfort zone in today’s comfortable Paris conditions. The 36-year-old had time to size up his strokes from both wings, and also had time to make adjustments after (rare) dips in execution. Nadal was broken twice on the day, but he broke back in the very next game on both occasions.

Those were hardly the only inroads Nadal make on Ruud’s serve. Not having to deal with overwhelming power when returning, Nadal at bridged the second and third sets with five consecutive service breaks. His forehand was at his lethal best, while his opponent was just trying to stand his ground. At 2-0 in the third, Ruud may have accepted his fate as Nadal was nearing another acceptance speech.

“Just a clinic, non-stop,” said NBC’s Dan Hicks as Nadal broke Ruud at love for a 4-0 lead in the third.

More on this match to come at