In Focus

Rafael Nadal: is the end drawing near for the ‘king of clay’?

After victory in the French Open final, Nadal admitted his career ‘hangs in the balance’

It should have been a moment of undiluted triumph, said Tumaini Carayol in The Guardian. In Sunday’s French Open final, Rafael Nadal romped past Norway’s Casper Ruud to win 6-3, 6-3, 6-0, proving yet again why he is the “king of clay”. The victory – the Spaniard’s 14th at the tournament – moves his grand slam tally to 22, two clear of both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. It also made him, at 36, the oldest ever male champion at Roland Garros. 

Yet after the match, there was a “bittersweet feeling in the Parisian air”, said Simon Briggs in The Daily Telegraph. For, as Nadal admitted, his career “hangs in the balance”. He has long suffered from Mueller-Weiss syndrome, a disease which restricts the flow of blood to a bone in his left foot. The condition has flared up in recent weeks, causing him near-constant pain: only regular anaesthetic injections, which put his “foot asleep”, had enabled him to compete in Paris. Speaking candidly at the post-match press conference, the Spaniard admitted that if a medical solution isn’t found quickly, he’ll probably have to retire. 

The irony of it is that Nadal’s form has rarely been better, said Stuart Fraser in The Times. He began the year by coming back from two sets down against Daniil Medvedev to win only his second Australian Open. With this latest victory he has, for the first time ever, “won the first two major tournaments of the season” – a truly astonishing achievement given the way his body is suffering.

Iga Swiatek poses with the French Open trophy in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris 

Iga Swiatek poses with the French Open trophy in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris 

Mine Kasapoglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The French Open women’s final was also a one-sided affair, said Mike Dickson in The Mail on Sunday. Iga Swiatek, the Polish world No. 1, needed just 68 minutes to beat Coco Gauff of America 6-1, 6-3. It was Swiatek’s second victory at Roland Garros, and the 21-year-old has now won 35 matches in a row – the longest winning streak in women’s tennis since Venus Williams won the same number in 2000.

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