Nadal outmanoeuvres Ruud to win 14th French Open singles title

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The gods favour a certain few. And on Sunday afternoon in the final at the French Open, Rafael Nadal showed he was among the anointed as he swept to a 14th men's singles title.

The 36-year-old beat the 23-year-old Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 18 minutes to win a record-extending 22nd singles title at a Grand Slam tournament.

Nadal took the first two games of the encounter against a student of his tennis academy in Mallorca.

But then he threw in two double faults on the way to ceding his service He broke again and held on to take the set 6-3 after 48 minutes.

Ruud, playing in his first final at a Grand Slam tournament, fended off break points at the start of the second set and was the first to strike to lead 3-1. A contest loomed.

But the eighth seed could not build on the slight advantage.

Surge

Nadal surged back to 3-3 and after snaffling Ruud's service to go 4-3 ahead, his first ace of the encounter took him to 5-3.

The fifth seed broke again to wrap up the second set 6-3. The storms and rain predicted for Sunday afternoon had stayed away - strange that - and sun shone.

The heat and relative dryness allowed Nadal to deploy his arsenal of wicked spins and perplexing angles.

Nadal's hold at the start of the third set was his sixth consecutive game.

The seventh followed soon after as well as the eighth. A fourth backhand winner gave him a point for the ninth and Ruud's backhand volley into the net effectively ended the match.

Pitiless

Nadal maintained the ruthlessness. The serve - so faltering during the early stages of the match - was starting to find its length and he moved efficiently to 5-0.

A 6-0 third set seemed harsh. But to teach the apprentice. What else to do?

"First thing to do is congratulate you Rafa," said Ruud. "Fourteen times here, 22nd Grand Slam singles title. I'm not the first victim."

And turning to the crowd, Ruud added: "You've been very nice to me for the past two weeks so thank you it gives me motivation to come back and do well."

In years to come it could well be with a few tips from the sorcerer who has spoken glowingly about Ruud and his family.

"You're having an amazing career," he said to Ruud during the trophy presentation. "These two weeks have been a huge progression for you and your team. Congratulations.

"It's difficult to describe the feeling," Nadal added. "At 36 playing in the most important court of my career and still competitive. I just want to say thank you to everyone here in Paris."

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