Tue, Jun 11, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Nadal wins eighth French Open

PARIS PROTEST:Rafael Nadal’s surge toward an eighth title was interrupted when a man, stripped to the waist and wearing a mask, lit a red flare and raced onto court

Reuters, PARIS

One could only feel for 31-year-old fourth seed Ferrer, who was contesting his first Grand Slam final at the 42nd time of asking having lost in five previous semi-finals.

He had won 18 consecutive sets on his way to the pinnacle of his hard-working career, but, just as his semi-final thrashing of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became a footnote on a dramatic day highlighted by Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, so his name will become a mere statistic on the day his compatriot reached yet another milestone.

His tidy summing up of the match could easily be an epithet for their respective careers.

“I had my good moments and he had lots of them,” Ferrer told reporters.

Possessing far fewer weapons in his arsenal than his opponent, Ferrer’s one hope was to keep his opponent off-balance with his punchy, accurate baseline game, but with dampness in the air and the balls going fuzzy he never had the power to make an impact.

“It’s always difficult to have a winning shot with the conditions that were so heavy,” he added.

Ferrer showed no nerves as he won a long baseline exchange in the fourth game to recover an early break of serve and he briefly got his nose in front to lead 3-2, but the pressure began to tell at 3-3 when Ferrer’s poorly disguised drop-shot gave Rafael Nadal the scent of a break that he converted by cuffing a backhand-crosscourt winner.

Rafael Nadal fought off a break point in the next game, before an ace took him to 5-3 and he broke again to claim the opener.

Ferrer dug deep to avoid going 4-0 down in the second set after losing six games in a row and had four break points in the following game — the last of which Rafael Nadal saved with a scything backhand winner on the 29th stroke of the match’s standout rally.

Rafael Nadal’s surge toward the title was interrupted when two people holding a banner high in the stands began chanting before being taken away. Then in the next game, the Spaniard was stunned as a man, stripped to the waist and wearing a mask, lit a red flare and raced onto court.

After he and an accomplice were bundled away by security staff, the remainder of the final was played out in a muted atmosphere as Rafael Nadal marched relentlessly into the tennis record books.

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