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Nadal sweeps past Wawrinka to win 10th Roland Garros crown
Rafael Nadal completed his hat trick of tens on Sunday with a straight sets destruction of Stan Wawrinka to collect another French Open crown.
His uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, presented him with a replica of the Coupe des Mousquetaires in honour of his achievements in Paris in front of the 15,000 centre court spectators.
It was an emotional moment. The understated Toni had to be ushered back to join his illustrious nephew so he could be at his side as a video was played on the big screens of Nadal’s triumphs.
Nadal, barely containing his tears as he gestured to his uncle, told the fans: “He has been with me since I was three-years-old. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without him.”
Earlier in the clay court season, Nadal won the Monte Carlo Masters for the 10th time and a few weeks later took the Barcelona Open too for the 10th time on the stadium court named after him as a mark of his achievements. It is now just a question of when and where the statue of him will be sited at Roland Garros.
Nadal won his first title at the venue at the age of 19 in 2005 beating Mariano Puerta in the final. Successes followed in 2006, 2007 and 2008. A last 16 exit at the hands of Robin Soderling opened the door for Roger Federer to win in 2009 but Nadal was back in 2010 to reclaim the prize. He held on to it for the next four years. In 2015, he lost in the quarter-final to Novak Djokovic and in 2016 had to pull out from his third round match because of an injured wrist.
The 31-year-old has been reunited with his beloved bauble after an extraordinary two weeks in Paris in which he did not lose a set and yielded only 35 games in seven matches. “Roland Garros has been important for me. Some titles are more special than others,” said Nadal. “This one is special because of what happened at the ceremony and because of the level of tennis that I’ve played and because of the physical problems I had last year.”
The final against the powerful third seed hinged on a passage of play in the first set. After a nervous opening from both men in which they both faced break points, Wawrinka levelled for 2-2. Then Nadal won seven consecutive games to take the first 6-2 and go 3-0 up in the second.
Wawrinka advanced to the net as his shots displayed more vitality and the Swiss held to trail 1-3. A match appeared to be on. But Nadal dug in, nursed his break advantage and served for the set at 5-3.
At 30-15 up he was lured to the net, Wawrinka had the chance for a pass but the shot flew well wide. The Swiss smashed his racquet on the ground and snapped it over his thigh. Instead of 30-30, it was two set points for Nadal at 40-15.
Wawrinka's new instrument did not arrest the decay. His backhand return flew out and it was 6-2 6-3 to Nadal after one hour and 26 minutes.
The third set was merely a coronation in waiting. There was never a moment when a comeback seemed likely. The player nicknamed Iron Stan had lost his mettle to a man who put the ten into tennis. “When you play against Rafa, if you hesitate, it's no good," lamented Wawrinka. "If you hesitate for half a second, it's too late. You will be late with your shot. So physically I felt good, but mentally it was tough.”
Nadal’s triumph brought him his 15th Grand Slam trophy after a three year drought. He moves one clear of Pete Sampras and is three behind the leader Roger Federer. “Our sport is not just about four tournaments a year," said Nadal.
"I’ve won in Monte Carlo and Barcelona for the 10th time and in Madrid for the fifth time. To have won 15 Grand Slams is unbelievable – especially 10 here in Paris but my motivation remains the same and my passion for the game remains the same. I like competition and to work hard for the chances to compete for the most important things.”