Nadal's 13 French Open Titles Part Ten - 2017

Leading up to the 2022 French Open, which begins on May 22, this series takes you through Rafael Nadal's 13 French Open titles, which is also the most number of times a player has won a particular Major.

Rafael Nadal dropped just 35 games, lowest since Bjorn Borg (32 in 1978), on his way to clinching the French Open title in 2017.

Heading into the 2017 French Open, the then 31-year-old Rafael Nadal had not won a Grand Slam for three years. The Mallorcan had had some embarrassingly early exits from the big events during this period. Injuries didn’t help his case either. 

However, the King of Clay ended this dry spell in some style on 11 June 2017 as he lifted his 10th French Open title - La Decima in Spanish - with the kind of authority and domination rarely seen in the sport.

Nadal’s clay-court season prior to 2017 French Open

Nadal went into the 2017 clay-court season after a number of near-misses on the hard court. In a vintage Australian Open final against Switzerland’s Roger Federer, their ninth Grand Slam Final meeting, Nadal was beaten 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 3-6 after being 3-1 up in the final set. He lost the summit clashes in Acapulco and Miami as well.

READ: Nadal's 13 French Open Titles Part Nine - 2014

His first match on clay in 2017 was against Great Britain’s World No. 45 Kyle Edmond in the second round (awarded a bye in the first round) in Monte Carlo.

Nadal, playing his 400th career match on the red dirt, dished out his 10th bagel at the Monte-Carlo Country Club in the opening set.

However, 22-year-old Edmund fought back in the second to win it 7-5 and take it to the deciding third. In the final set, Nadal was up 4-3 when the match was interrupted by a bird which sat on the net.

Here's a compilation of Rafael Nadal's 13 French Open Titles

Nadal's 13 French Open Titles by Sportstar Online

After the ball kid showed it away, it came back to the center of the court. Eventually, the mischievous creature left the field of play and Nadal wrapped up the third 6-3 to move to the next round. He clinched his 10th title in Monaco, becoming the first man in the Open Era to win a tournament ten times.

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FILE PHOTO: A ball boy trys to scare a pigeon off the net as Great Britain's Kyle Edmund plays against Spain's Rafael Nadal in his second round match at the Monte Carlo Masters at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 19, 2017 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

He repeated the feat by lifting the winner’s trophy for the tenth time in Barcelona the following week after beating Austrian World No. 9  Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1 in the final.

In Madrid, the Spaniard had to battle through three sets [7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4] to get past Italian World No. 29 Fabio Fognini in the second round. After the win, Nadal admitted that Fognini had always been a tough opponent to face on clay.

“He's one of the most difficult players you can play. It's true that I think on clay he's a very, very tough player… I have to play really well to be able to beat him. I think I'm ready to do that. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I don't know what's going to happen,” Nadal told atptour.com.

After wins over maverick Australian World No. 20 Nick Kyrgios, gritty Belgian World No. 10 David Goffin and toughest rival Serbian World No. 2 Novak Djokovic (breaking a seven-match losing streak) in successive round, Nadal again had the final against Thiem. Compared to Barcelona, the Austrian gave a tougher fight but the result remained the same as the Spaniard won 7-6 (8), 6-4.

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Thiem finally got the job done when the duo next met in the quarterfinals in Rome as he came out all guns blazing to defeat Nadal 6-4, 3-6 in under two hours.

2017 French Open

For only the fourth time in his career, Nadal played at Roland Garros without the pressure of having to defend his crown.

While he was stunned by Djokovic in straight sets at the quarterfinal stage in 2015, nine-time champion Nadal had to give a walkover to compatriot Marcel Granollers in the third round in 2016 after a terrible wrist injury.

Seeded fourth for the 2017 edition, the Spaniard was barely challenged in any of his matches. In the opening round fixture against local favourite Benoit Paire, Nadal pocketed the first set in just half an hour.

Paire, leading 4-3 in the second, failed to convert two break-point chances. Nadal took the second 6-3 and then swept the third 6-1.

READ: Nadal’s 13 French Open Titles Part Eight - 2013

The second-round match against Dutch World No. 46 Robin Haase wasn’t much of a contest either as Nadal sealed a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 victory. During the third game of the third set, Haase miscued a backhand which hit chair umpire Arnaud Gabas in the leg.

Since it was unintentional, Haase and Gabas turned the aftermath into a funny exchange as Haase pretended to be an archer aiming his arrow at Gabas who responded by joining his hands pleading the Dutchman to spare his life.

 

Nadal’s third round match against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili lasted exactly for an hour and a half as he was thrashed 6-0, 6-1, 6-0.

After the match, the Georgian was asked if he had some suggestions for those who were about to face the Spaniard to which he responded, “He is playing unbelievably good (tennis) at this moment with everything. So I don’t know what advice I can give.”

The march towards an unprecedented tenth French Open title continued for Nadal as he romped to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over fellow countryman Roberto Bautista in the fourth round. In an all-Spanish quarterfinal, Nadal was leading 6-2, 2-0 when Pablo Carreno Busta retired from the match following an abdominal problem.

 

When the draw for the 2017 French Open had come out, people had their eyes on a possible semifinal clash between Nadal and defending champion Djokovic. What they eventually got was another eagerly anticipated chapter in  the Nadal-Thiem saga of the season.

Djokovic, who had 1999 French Open champion Andre Agassi on board as coach, was sent packing by Thiem with a 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-0 in two hours 15 minutes in their quarterfinal. The bagel came in just 20 minute.

While the final score line of 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 gave the impression that Thiem surrendered against Nadal in the semifinal, it wasn’t the case as the Austrian broke the Spaniard in the opening game of the match itself and had plenty of chances later.

It was Nadal who served cleverly in tricky moments against the then 23-year-old Thiem to get out of danger every time. 

In their previous meeting at Roland Garros, Nadal had beaten Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the 2013 quarterfinal.

The stage in 2017 was the final but the scoreline and the result remained the same as Nadal, who had beaten Federer four time in the French Open summit clashes before, triumphed against another Swiss player in Wawrinka to clinch the title.

READ: Nadal’s 13 French Open Titles Part Seven - 2012

The 2017 French Open title was Nadal’s third title at Roland Garros which had come without dropping a set. In fact, Nadal lost a combined total of 35 games in his seven matches, the lowest since Swedish legend Bjorn Borg dropped just 32 on his way to winning the 1978 edition.

 

After the final, a visibly emotional Nadal mentioned how much the French Open meant to him. He said, “I try my best in all events — that’s the real thing. But the feeling I have here is impossible to describe and difficult to compare to another place. For me, the nerves, the adrenaline that I feel when I play in this court is impossible to compare to another feeling. Just for me, it’s the most important event in my career, without a doubt.”

Rafael Nadal's route to French Open title in 2017

First round: won 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 against Benoit Paire (FRA)

Second round: won 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 against Robin Haase (NED)

Third round: won 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 against Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)

Fourth round: won 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 against Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)

Quarterfinal: won 6-2, 2-0 (RET) against Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)

Semifinal: won 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 against Dominic Thiem (AUS)

Final: won 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 against Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)

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