Rafael Nadal has won at the 2013 French Open, besting David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to secure his record eighth championship at Roland Garros. Nadal improved to an incredible 59-1 at the French Open and reaffirmed his moniker as the "King of Clay."
With Nadal leading Ferrer by one set and having just held serve to open the second set, color guy and tennis legend John McEnroe said "This is like a heavyweight versus a welterweight." While that statement was exactly that -- color -- and a bit early at that, when it comes to Nadal on clay, McEnroe wasn't too far off.
Especially given that Nadal followed that service game with an almost uneventful break of Ferrer's serve. Ferrer would eventually threaten a break at 3-1, but Nadal consistently threw down perfect shots from every angle to fight it off and eventually hold serve at 4-1. He'd go on to win the second set at 6-2.
Right about the time the third set started was when Ferrer's frustration really began to show. After getting a shot called out down 30-love in the opening game of the third set, Ferrer slammed the shot back as he turned away shaking his head. Nadal then served up an ace to go up 1-0 in the third. Nadal then broke Ferrer to take the 2-0 lead, but was broken by Ferrer in the next game.
The light rain from earlier in the match started to come back in the third set and some thought there might be a significant delay, but Nadal wanted to play on, trying to get the match wrapped up in three sets. Ferrer battled back though, holding serve to get to 2-2. Eventually, Ferrer threatened a break at 3-3, but failed to convert his first break point. Nadal then battled back and held serve.
What followed was Nadal securing a break, and then serving for the match at 5-3. At 40-15, Nadal hit a hard serve and dashed to get at Ferrer's return -- he smashed it down the left side and Ferrer didn't even chase it, sealing the third set, and the win at 6-3.
For Nadal, the victory is plenty sweet, especially given that it came after a five-set epic against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. At this point, Djokovic is about the only player who can keep up with Nadal on clay, so taking him down en route to his eighth championship can only make it sweeter.
It's not all bad being Ferrer, who will pass Nadal in the ATP rankings on Monday despite the loss. He's had an excellent run so far this season, accentuated by this appearance in the final at Roland Garros, the first Grand Slam final appearance of his career.
Against Ferrer specifically, Nadal now has a 20-4 record, including a 17-1 mark on clay and a 3-0 mark at Roland Garros. This was Nadal's fourth-straight win at the French Open, tying the record he already held alongside Swedish great Björn Borg.
Nadal will now prepare for Wimbledon in late June and early July, though he recently pulled out of the warmup event at Halle in Germany, citing fatigue due to his run at Roland Garros.
During the second set, a protest was staged in the top row behind Nadal. NBC didn't show the protest nor was it made clear what was being protested, but play resumed with Ferrer serving. Nadal eventually broke Ferrer, took over serving, but play was momentarily stopped when what was presumably a protester made it onto the court with some kind of flare.
Security stamped out the flare and removed the protester. Play wasn't stopped for more than a minute or two, with both Nadal and Ferrer looking annoyed and eager to play on. A second protester eventually ran out in the same manner with his flare, and was stopped by security with play resuming, again, about a minute later.