Emotional Nadal wins fifth French Open title

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McClatchy Tribune
Monday, June 7, 2010
— Rafael Nadal edged closer to another tennis record as the Spaniard won the French Open for the fifth time in six years in front of Spanish royalty Sunday, then broke down in uncontrollable sobs of joy at his accomplishment.

Spain’s Queen Sofia was on hand as her subject claimed an emphatic 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Swede Robin Soderling and took quiet revenge against the only man to ever beat him at Roland Garros.

“This is a very important victory for me, one of the most important of my career,” said Nadal, who added that “2009 was very difficult for me (injuries). I worked a lot to be here. I was nervous all during this event.

“I knew I wanted to win another time and I saw the chances. The positive thing was that today I was ready to play with calm, play my best and enjoy the match.”

The Spaniard, beaten in 2009 by Soderling in the fourth round, becomes only the second man to win five French crowns.

Swede Bjorn Borg holds the record of six titles between 1974 and 1981. Nadal won his 38th career match at Roland Garros against the one loss, to Soderling.

A joyful Nadal rolled like a child in the dirt after Soderling slammed a backhand into the net on the first of three Nadal match points after two hours and 18 minutes.

The emotional Spaniard could then not contain himself as he sobbed into his towel when considering the enormity of his achievement—it came on the 54th birthday of Borg.

The victory sends Nadal back to the world No 1 ranking, dropping Roger Federer to second. It also makes him the first of the eight qualifiers for the Nov. 21-28 year-end finals in London.

The defeat was hugely disappointing for Soderling, who will still move to a career-best ranking of sixth on the ATP list today. The Swede’s normally reliable forehand deserted him, with the fifth seed finding more than 30 errors off that wing.

“Every match is different, the margins are very small,” said Soderling. “Of course I didn’t play as good this year as I did against him last year.

“I didn’t serve as well. I wasn’t hitting the ball as clean. It was tough today; I didn’t really get into the match.”

Nadal stands at 4-2 over Soderling after claiming his seventh Grand Slam trophy and 40th of his career.

Nadal won the title without the loss of a set after coming to Paris with an unprecedented set of wins at the three major warm-up events in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid.

His clay win streak now stands at 22 matches. Soderling is the first man to defeat defending champions at Roland Garros in consecutive years—having defeated Nadal in 2009 and Federer last week.

Nadal ended his remarkable clay season with the loss of just two sets on the surface, in Rome to Ernests Gulbis and in Madrid to Nicolas Almagro.

Last updated: 2:09 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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