He's experienced close calls throughout each of his 12 Roland Garros title runs. But every time, Rafael Nadal has ultimately shown a killer instinct. Today, we look back at his resurrection in Paris, where he ended his longest French Open trophy drought of three years.
2017 FRENCH OPEN
Three years removed from his last major title, Nadal was at last back as a formidable favorite. The Spaniard picked up hardware in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid to put his competitors on notice, and turned back the clock by the time he stepped onto Court Suzanne Lenglen for his first-round match with Benoit Paire. This was his homecoming, his emancipation, his testimony. Nadal cleared each hurdle with magnificent momentum, gaining velocity down the track as he sprinted past gifted clay-courters Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka to clinch La Decima, his 10th French Open trophy. With the title, Nadal passed Pete Sampras for sole possession of second place on the all-time major title list with 15 triumphs.
Most impressive win: Final; Nadal d. Wawrinka, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1
Wawrinka was no stranger to showcasing his best tennis on spirited stadium courts, which included wins over Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open final and 2015 Rome quarterfinals, and against Djokovic in two Grand Slam finals–the 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open. There would be no responses to Nadal this time around, other than head turns and racquet claps. The distinguished clay professor put on his latest masterclass in deflating the shaky Swiss to become the first player in the Open Era to win a single Grand Slam event 10 times.
Closest call: Semifinals; Nadal d. Thiem, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0
Just three players managed to win four games in a set during Nadal’s 2017 run. Robin Haase posted the most overall games with eight in his third-round loss, though Thiem was expected to provide a much stronger challenge after taking down Nadal in the Rome quarterfinals.