Share story

PARIS – There was never any question the Spanish national anthem would be played for the French Open men’s singles winner Sunday. And for most tennis watchers, there was no doubt which Spaniard would be the one to hold the trophy aloft.

Rafael Nadal cemented his reputation as the sport’s greatest-ever exponent on clay by scything down countryman David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to harvest a record-extending eighth French Open title. No man has ever claimed the same Grand Slam tournament as many times, or won as many matches, 59, on the red clay of Paris.

Nadal, 27, has failed to conquer Roland Garros once since 2005, and on Sunday neither the tenacious play of his 31-year-old compatriot nor the histrionics of some protesters during the match could impede his march to a 12th major title.

Only Swiss virtuoso Roger Federer, with 17, owns more Grand Slam titles among active men’s players. Nadal is tied for third with Roy Emerson on the all-time list of major winners.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

Nadal’s victory over Ferrer, who was in his first major final, continued an astonishing comeback that began in February, when Nadal returned to the Tour after a seven-month layoff to rest a dodgy knee.

“Very happy, very emotional, very important victory for me,” Nadal said after the final. “Five months ago, nobody of my team dreamed about one comeback like this because we thought that was going to be impossible.”

There was unexpected drama when a few protesters near the top of the stadium began shouting their opposition, apparently, to France’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage. A masked, shirtless man trying to make the same point then jumped onto Nadal’s side of the court holding a flare spewing pink sparks.

Security officials wrestled him down and hustled him out.

“I felt a little bit scared at the first moment because I didn’t see what’s going on. I just turned there and I watch a guy with some fire, so I got a little bit scared,” Nadal recalled.

Elite company
Source: The Associated Press
Rafael Nadal is tied for third on the all-time list with 12 major titles. Here are the title-match win-loss records of the men with the most major championships, listed in order of victories.
Player Record Win pct
Roger Federer 17-7 71
Pete Sampras 14-4 78
Roy Emerson 12-3 80
Rafael Nadal 12-5 71
Bjorn Borg 11-5 69
Rod Laver 11-6 65