Coasts to a straight-set victory over compatriot David Ferrer in the French Open summit clash

Rafael Nadal made history as he beat Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday to win a record eighth French Open title, in a final marred by anti-gay marriage protests in the stands and by an intruder with a flare on the court.

The world number four — who will drop to fifth in the ATP rankings despite his title — becomes the first man in tennis history to win eight singles titles at the same grand slam in the Open era which started in 1967.

He fell to his back on the wet clay after sending over a baseline winner of first match point after two and quarter hours.

A shirtless man wearing a Phantom of the Opera-style white mask, believed to be part of the anti-gay marriage group, jumped out of the courtside seats with a lit flare and managed to rush onto the Nadal side of the court before being body-slammed by security and hauled off through the players’ entrance.

The incident briefly rattled Nadal, who double-faulted for a break point and dropped the game to lead 6-3, 5-2. But it was then Ferrer’s turn to blink, with the challenger producing back-to-back double faults to hand over three set points to Nadal.

One was enough as Ferrer returned wide to go down two sets to love, and then double-faulted to give Nadal a deciding 5-3 lead in the third.

Nadal came to the court against the compatriot whom he has now beaten in 20 of 24 matches as the only player at Roland Garros with seven trophies alongside Chris Evert.

The match played in heavy conditions with the treat of rain was not conducive to sun-loving Nadal, but the Spaniard got on with the job.

The contest was the first all-Spanish final in Paris since Albert Costa beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2002.

Nadal leads the ATP with 43 victories this season, winning a pacesetting 38 on his favoured clay. The Spaniard has won 59 of his 60 career matches at Roland Garros, with his only loss coming in the 2009 fourth round to Robin Soderling.

He now owns a dozen Grand Slam titles, five less than all-time leader Roger Federer.


The king and his court June 11, 2013

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