French Open 2022: Rafael Nadal targets Casper Ruud’s backhand with a forehand cross to dominate final

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In just under an hour and a half, Rafael Nadal delivered an outstanding show on clay to defeat finalist Casper Rudd in straight sets to raise his record for a Grand Slam and a 14th French Open title. The Spaniard’s dominant showing was yet another display of his trademark blend of clever tactics and ruthless shooting.

Rod’s backhand fails to cope

Dealing with Nadal’s forehand anywhere is a tough job, not to mention the red dirt at Roland Garros. The shot goes to the back corner of the opposite right hand side with so much spin and bouncing that it makes the ball look like a rock on the racket. In the end, Rudd proved unable to negotiate with great success.

The Norwegian didn’t find any buying for his backhand, wasn’t able to modify it as well as his forehand, and therefore needed to move away from the baseline or take the ball to deal with Nadal’s forehand on the cross. The Spaniard recognized this early on and effectively targeted this winger, even choosing to walk the line with his own backhand to expose his opponent with that shot. This tactic played a big part in the 36-year-old getting a foothold early in the game and out of the gates.

Only four of Rudd’s 16 winners all game came from backhand, none were groundstrokes, and only one came in the first set. Fifteen of the match’s 23 forced fouls were also on backhands, illustrating Nadal’s dominance in cross-court exchanges.

Tact and perseverance

Court Philippe Chatrier is embellished with a quote from Roland Garros, the first pilot and fighter in the World War after whom the French Open venue is named, saying: “Victory belongs to the most stubborn.” The 14 titles Nadal wrecked on that very court are just a testament to that.

On Sunday, the Spaniard opened the second set too slowly, squandering some break points in the first game before dropping his serve and trailing 1-3. There, Nadal won 11 games in a row to wrap up the final, and while his groundbreaking depth, tactics, shooting position, and deft touch were all apparent, his tenacity played a large part in the dominant display.

Rudd was forced to play a near-perfect shot – sometimes multiple times in a rally – to win one point against the Spaniard. With the dry conditions under the Paris sun playing right into his hands, Nadal made Rudd twice as much as he had against everyone else to win from the baseline, exhausting him point by point.

With the exception of the extraordinary first serve, the Norwegian took points on the cheap, and Nadal’s 14 unintentional four-fault win in the final 30-minute set – which Ruud won by eight – was a testament to his astonishing level. Of tennis and perseverance with which he was working.

Nadal’s recent victory at Roland Garros would set an impressive number of records – 14 French championships, oldest men’s singles champion at Roland Garros, 22 Grand Slam titles, one of only two men (the other being Roger Federer at the 2017 Australian Open) to win Major with his victory On the four players of the top 10 players, supposed to be much more. But for the man who has played the majority of Grand Slam tournaments by taking anesthetic injections to numb the pain from a chronic foot injury, Nadal proves once again that his most important trait will always be his perseverance.

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