Rafael Nadal became the first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam tournament when he beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the French Open final Sunday, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
Nadal broke the men’s record for match wins at Roland Garros, where he improved to 59-1, with his lone defeat against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009.
For fans enthralled by Nadal’s semifinal victory over top-ranked Novak Djokovic, Sunday’s final may have seemed anticlimactic. But not for the champion, who hit a fallaway forehand winner on championship point, then tumbled to the clay he loves and covered his face to hide his emotions.
Nadal’s path to the Roland Garros title was more arduous than usual. He fell behind in each of his first three matches and needed a fifth-set comeback to beat Djokovic.
And the latest title was especially sweet for the Spaniard because of his comeback after a seven-month layoff because of knee trouble. Since returning in February, he’s 43-2 with seven titles in nine tournaments, and he has won his past 22 matches.
With his 12th Grand Slam title, Nadal moved into a tie for third place with Roy Emerson behind Roger Federer’s 17 and Pete Sampras’ 14.