By Ros Satar
(June 9, 2013) PARIS – A dramatic double interruption from protestors left an edgy air on an overcast Paris day, but it did not prevent Rafael Nadal from carving a place in history as the first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam event.
Nadal beat compatriot David Ferrer in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 and now is the leading performer in Roland Garros history, with a 59-1 win-loss record.
The weather had turned cloudy and there were doubts that the match would get by without significant disruptions – for weather.
It was important for Ferrer to get a good start but it was the defending champion who made the first break early.
Ferrer all but gifted Nadal the first set when he was broken again, despite having got himself back on even terms, thanks to sloppy errors and a double fault.
Nadal started the second set with real intent, drawing gasps at times as the intensity of his clubbed forehands and backhands racked up.
Play was initially disrupted in the middle of Ferrer’s service game (at 4-1) by a couple of protestors holding a sign up in the Chatrier against the recently passed same-sex marriage bill, which also legalizes same-sex adoption.
The players waited as the chanters were escorted out of the stadium, but more drama was to unfold Nadal was coming out to serve at 5-1 for the second set.
A bare-chested protestor leapt from the front row with a lit red flare, as security guards moved quickly to restrain him, also ushering Nadal safely out of the way, and to extinguish the flare.
A similar styled protest took place at the same time at the top of Suzanne Lenglen Court.
This latest disruption unsettled the public and players alike, as both were unable to hold on to their serves, but it provided Nadal with a decisive break once nerves had stopped jangling to take the second set.
As if that was not enough, there was a brief suspension for rain in the third set, with the players held on court.
Ferrer was whistled at his reluctance to re-start and thankfully for the end was relatively fast for him as Nadal was not hanging about, on his way to history.
Six-time Olympic Gold medal winner, Usain Bolt, presented the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy to Nadal.
When it came to the punch, Ferrer just came up short on the aggressive needed, as he explained in his post-match news conference.
“To beat Rafael in clay court, I need to play more aggressive.
“When the court is slower, it’s very difficult.
“He has more power than me with his shots, and it’s very difficult for to beat him.”
Despite losing the final today, Ferrer moves to fourth in the ATP World Tour Rankings, and at least could joke about that after the match.
“I lost the final against Rafael, but tomorrow I am going to be No.4 and him No. 5.
“But anyway, I change. I prefer to win here and to stay No. 5. (Laughter.)”
When asked about the disturbances due to the protestors, Ferrer rushed it off, although he did joke: “Rafael, he was scared a little bit, (Laughter), but nothing happened, so it’s okay.”
Nadal later agreed but was quick to praise the efforts of the security guards who quickly bundled the protestor from the courts.
Nadal called this an emotional win and described how just a few months ago, this position was the last thing on his team’s minds.
“Five months ago nobody of my team dreamed about one comeback like this because we thought that going to be impossible.
“But here we are today, and that’s really fantastic and incredible.
“I am enjoying a lot all these emotions since I came back.”
But serious questions must be asked in light of the second incident since 2009, in a men’s final at Roland Garros.
In 2009, Spanish “streaker” Jimmy Jump tried to approach Roger Federer to place a barretina cap on his head, before being tackled and removed by security guards.
Security measures are tighter at both Wimbledon and the US Open, especially in light of recent high profile terrorist activities in London and New York.
Security measures are less tight here – as someone pointed out it is nigh on impossible to smuggle a cup of coffee onto the chilly press benches, but people with flares can manage to get in, and moreover get onto the court.
In an interview after the final, tournament director Gilbert Ysern felt that the situation had been controlled and that there would be no need to review security.
But the moment belongs to the man from Mallorca.
“This one is very special one.
“When you have period of time like I had, you realize that you don’t know if you will have the chance to be back here with this trophy another time.”