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TENNIS

Rafa Nadal breaks records with epic tenth French Open title

Rafael Nadal admits he doubted he'd ever win another Grand Slam title after a three-year drought at the majors and an ongoing battle with injuries and poor form.

Rafa Nadal breaks records with epic tenth French Open title
Rafael Nadal coasted to a record 10th French Open title

On Sunday, the 31-year-old Spaniard coasted to a record 10th French Open title, demolishing Stan Wawrinka in a brutally one-sided final which also earned him a 15th Grand Slam crown.

Nadal triumphed 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to become the first man in history to win the same major 10 times.

His collection of Slams now stands just three behind great rival Roger Federer, a staggering statistic coming just a year after he quit Roland Garros with a wrist injury.

His last Grand Slam title before this year's Roland Garros came in Paris in 2014 and he admitted that there were doubts over whether or not he'd recover his former powers.

“I have doubts every day but that's good as it makes me work hard with more intensity,” he said.

“You have to be humble and accept that you have to work to improve things.    

“I have doubts today, I had doubts in the last three years, I will have doubts in a few days.

“Life is never clear. If you have no doubts, then you are very arrogant. I am not an arrogant person.”

After winning his ninth Roland Garros and 14th major in 2014, Nadal's best performance at the Slams was two quarter-final spots.    His world ranking slipped as low as 10 in 2015 and his 2016 French Open was ended prematurely after the second round by a wrist injury.  

But he finished runner-up at the Australian Open in January, losing in five sets to Federer and he was back in business.  

He dominated the clay court season with titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

He lost just one match on clay all year while his win on Sunday took his Paris record to a staggering 79 wins and just two losses.    

Against world number three Wawrinka, his record is now 16 wins and three losses. On clay, it's 7-1.

Nadal went through the tournament without dropping a set for the third time in his French Open career.

He lost just 35 games in total, second only to Bjorn Borg's record of 32 in the Swede's 1978 title-winning season.  

“To win 10 Roland Garros titles is magical,” added Nadal.  

“I had tough times last year so it's great to have big success again.”    

Despite his dominance at the French Open, Nadal said he never took victory for granted.

He was aware of being within touching distance of the title in Australia in January when he was a break up in the final set only to lose to Federer.    

“At 4-1 in the third set I knew I was close. At 5-1, I thought probably I am going to win this.

“But I have come close before — in Australia this year and in 2012 in Australia (when he lost an epic final to Novak Djokovic).    

“So my mentality was that I cannot give Stan the chance to get back into the match.

“But I knew that I had been playing too good in the tournament to play a bad final.”

Nadal said he had not given up hope of taking back the world number one ranking that he last held in June 2014.  

“If I win I have chances to become number one — if I play well, why not?”

By Dave James / AFP

TENNIS

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca

Rafael Nadal married his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca on Saturday.

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca
Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

Nadal, the 19-time grand slam champion, tied the knot with 31-year-old Perello at La Fortaleza, with a reported 350 guests invited to a private ceremony.

Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain from 1975 to 2014, was believed to be among those in attendance while the Michelin-star chef, Quique Dacosta, was reportedly in charge of catering.

The newlyweds shared some official photos of the day through the Fundacion Rafa Nadal, the NGO the tennis player set up on Mallorca

Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

 

Nadal, 33, met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

They started dating in 2005 when they were both teenagers after meeting several years before.


Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

The couple announced their engagement in January and revealed that the tennis ace had proposed on a romantic trip to Rome last May but chose to  keep the news private.

 

Perello, has always shunned the media spotlight although she has been pictured courtside at some of Nadal’s biggest matches.


Nadal kisses Perello after winning against France's Gael Monfils in the final tennis match at the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament in Monaco on April 17, 2016. 

But she isn't always there. In a 2011 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Perello explained: “He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around and waiting on his needs all day tires me out.

“It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me… No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there's a risk we might stop getting along.”

She works in insurance and is a business graduate but also serves as project director for the Rafa Nadal Foundation, the charity which Nadal launched almost ten years ago.

In an interview with sports newspaper Marca last year, the world number 2 hinted that he wouldn't be ready to start a family until he had retired from tennis. 

'I keep my commitment with tennis and my happiness', Nadal told Marca. 'I enjoy both in tennis and outside it. I have a girlfriend too and I am not alone to take decisions.

“Having family? I don't know, things are not easy to be predict. At this age, I thought that I would have already been a former player and that I would have started a family.”

READ ALSO: Rafa Nadal donates €1million to help victims of Mallorca floods 

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