After the recent French Open wrapped up, I wrote a column about prolific winner Rafael Nadal for JAPAN Forward. It began this way:

Rafael Nadal’s latest Parisian conquest wasn’t surprising. Nor should it be.

The Spaniard, who brings new meaning to the phrase “clay-court specialist,” controlled the action, the tempo, and the real estate—78 feet (23.77 meters) long by 27 feet (8.23 meters) wide—against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the French Open men’s singles final.

The result was a reminder of what we already know: Nobody plays as exceptionally well on clay as Nadal does—and did on Sunday, October 11. 

Nadal’s success at Roland Garros is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in pro sports.

In essence, it’s automatic.

The world No. 2, now 34 years old, has played in 102 singles matches in the Grand Slam event, winning 100 of them. He denied Djokovic’s quest to collect the prize with a clinical 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory.

For the fourth time in his legendary career, Nadal didn’t lose a set in seven matches en route to a title. He previously accomplished the against-the-odds feat in 2008, 2010 and 2017.

And oh, by the way, Nadal has won the French Open singles title 13 times. Nobody has won as many Grand Slam titles at a single event.

With Sunday’s win, the left-hander tied Roger Feder’s all-time mark for most Grand Slam men’s singles titles (20), and the Serbian Djokovic has 17.

See a compilation of Nadal’s career highlights at the French Open here.

“I played a very good final,” the King of Clay confessed. “I played at my highest level when I needed to play at my highest level. So it’s something that I’m very proud (of).”

Read the full column here: