PARIS — Rafael Nadal pulled away to beat Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in the French Open final on Sunday for his 14th championship at Roland Garros and 22nd Grand Slam title overall, adding to two records he already owned.
Nadal’s victory came two days after his 36th birthday and made him the oldest title winner in the history of the clay-court tournament, eclipsing Andres Gimeno, who was 34 when he won in 1972.
Ruud led 3-1 in the second set, a deficit that spurred Nadal to raise his level — he took the last 11 games.
Nadal played so crisply and cleanly, accumulating more than twice as many winners as Ruud, 37 to 16. Nadal also committed fewer unforced errors, making just 16 to Ruud’s 26.
When it ended with a down-the-line backhand from Nadal, he chucked his racquet to the red clay he loves so much and covered his face with the taped-up fingers on both of his hands.
The Spaniard’s first triumph in Paris came in 2005 at age 19. No man or woman ever has won the singles trophy at any major event more than his 14 in Paris. And no man has won more Grand Slam titles than Nadal.
He is two ahead of rivals Roger Federer, who hasn’t played in almost a year after a series of knee operations, and Novak Djokovic, who missed the Australian Open in January because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and lost to Nadal at Roland Garros.
Given his age, and, of more concern, the chronic pain in his left foot that has been an off-and-on problem for years, Nadal has said repeatedly in recent days that he can never be sure whether each match at Court Philippe Chatrier might be his last.
Doesn’t really seem much reason to quit now, though, considering that he navigated his way past four French Open opponents ranked in the top 10 (Canadian No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, No. 1 Djokovic in the quarterfinals, No. 3 Alexander Zverev — who stopped because of a foot injury — in the semifinals, and then No. 8 Ruud).
Nadal improved to 14-0 in finals at Roland Garros and 112-3 overall at his favourite tournament.
For all that he has accomplished already, Nadal now has done something he never managed previously: He is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam thanks to titles at the Australian Open and French Open in the same season.
Ruud is a 23-year-old from Norway who was participating in a Grand Slam final for the first time. He’d never even played in a major quarterfinal until now.
He considers Nadal his idol. He recalls watching all of Nadal’s past finals in Paris on TV. He has trained at Nadal’s tennis academy in Mallorca.
They have played countless practice sets together there with nothing more at stake than bragging rights. Nadal usually won those, and Ruud joked the other day that’s because he was trying to be a polite guest.
The two had never met in a real match until Sunday, when a championship, money, ranking points, prestige and a piece of history were on the line. And Nadal demonstrated, as he has so often, why he’s known as the King of Clay — and among the game’s greatest ever.
He can now place this latest Coupe des Mousquetaires alongside the trophies he gathered at Roland Garros from 2005-08, 2010-14 and 2017-20. He’s also won the U.S. Open four times and the Australian Open and Wimbledon twice apiece.
2022 NBA Draft: Toronto Raptors select Christian Koloko with 33rd pick in 2022 NBA Draft – RaptorsHQ
The Raptors only had the one pick tonight; they traded their first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Thaddeus Young at last season’s trade deadline. There were several strong candidates remaining at 33, but Koloko seems like a strong fit for the Raptors.
For one, he’s big — like, an actual big. He’s 7’1”! The Raptors leaned into length last year, but this is a whole ‘other story: he’s got a 7’5.25” wingspan!
By all accounts, Koloko is an athletic shot blocker, rim-runner and dunker; he can shoot a little, but not from range (yet); he’s a high-energy player.
That all sounds appealing! Well, OK, maybe not the “can’t shoot from distance part,” but hey, that’s what the NBA G League is for!
Koloko played three seasons in Arizona, and averaged 12.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and an insane 2.8 blocks in 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats last season. He also shot the ball well from the floor and the line (63.5% and 73.5%, respectively) but again, nothing from deep.
He’s also from Doula, Cameroon — Pascal Siakam’s hometown! Also like Siakam, he picked up hoops later in life, so he’s still raw — a real unfinished product.
Size, quickness, shot-blocking, energy. What more can you want? (Oh, yeah. Shooting.) Well, we can’t have it all, right?
Our draft expert JD Quirante will have a full breakdown of Koloko’s game and fit with the Raptors tomorrow.
Colorado Avalanche Looking to Close Out Stanley Cup Final – VOCM
The biggest game of Alex Newhook’s young career is taking place tonight as the Colorado Avalanche look to win the Stanley Cup.
The Avalanche won game four against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night, securing a 3-1 series lead against the defending two-time Stanley Cup champions.
A win tonight would give the Avalanche their first cup since 2001, and bring the cup back to Newfoundland and Labrador with St. John’s native Newhook.
The game gets underway tonight at 9:30 island time.
Andreescu advances to Bad Homburg final after Halep withdraws – WTA Tennis
The unseeded Bianca Andreescu reached her sixth career final, and first off hard courts, at the Bad Homburg Open presented by Engel & Voelkers after a neck injury forced No.4 seed Simona Halep to withdraw ahead of their semifinal.
This week marked the first time in the Canadian’s career that she had won consecutive main-draw matches on grass. The 2019 US Open champion is playing her sixth tournament of the season following a six-month hiatus to look after her mental health, and notched her third Top 20 win of 2022 with a quarterfinal upset of No.1 seed Daria Kasatkina.
Saturday’s final will be Andreescu’s first since Miami 2021, where she was forced to retire against Ashleigh Barty. She will face either No.9 seed Alizé Cornet or Caroline Garcia as she bids to win her fourth career title.
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Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
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