Rafael Nadal reclaimed his crown as the king of clay with a dominant victory over Casper Ruud to claim an incredible 14th French Open.
Nadal is two days past his 36th birthday and suffering with a chronic foot problem which has prompted rumours of retirement, but he was way too strong for first-time finalist Ruud and destroyed the Norwegian eighth seed 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.
It was Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam victory to take him two ahead of great rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, and he was full of emotion on court after the victory.
“Merci, merci beaucoup,” said the Spaniard. “First of all, Casper, it’s a real pleasure to play with you a final here in Roland Garros. You are great. I want to congratulate you for an amazing career you are having.
“Especially these two weeks, I think it is a very important step forward. I am very very happy for you and your family and your team. I wish you all the very best for the future.
“I have to follow with my team, my family, everybody. It is completely amazing, the things that are happening this year.
“I can thank you very, very much for all the things you are doing with me and did over all of the years. Without you none of this would be possible.”
Nadal passed fellow Spaniard Andres Gimeno as the oldest Roland Garros men’s champion, again proving that even at less than 100 per cent he is still a mountain too steep to conquer on the red clay of Roland Garros.
“I want to continue saying thank you to everybody who make possible this event,” he added.
“For me and I think for a lot of people who love the history of this sport it is the best tournament of the world so thank you everybody who make possible this great event. You make me feel like home.
“For me personally, it is very difficult to describe the feelings that I have. It’s something that I never believed; I would be here at 36, being competitive again, playing in the most important court of my career one more time in a final.
“It means everything to me. It means a lot of energy to try to keep going.
“I don’t know what can happen in the future but I am going to keep fighting to try to keep going, so thank you!”