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Trying to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open is, without a doubt, the toughest task in tennis. Indeed, must be among the greatest challenges in all of sports.The pressure he applies, from set to set, game to game, point to point, shot to shot. That bullwhip of a high-bouncing, topspin lefty forehand. Those quick-reflex returns that help him break an opponent’s serve — and his will.Doing what he does so well on the red clay of Roland Garros, a surface and site he dominates so completely, the No. 1-seeded Nadal wore down No. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 5-7, 2-6, 6-4 Sunday to win his ninth French Open championship and fifth in a row, both records.“For me,” Nadal said, “playing here in Roland Garros is just unforgettable, forever.” (Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Trying to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open is, without a doubt, the toughest task in tennis. Indeed, must be among the greatest challenges in all of sports.

The pressure he applies, from set to set, game to game, point to point, shot to shot. That bullwhip of a high-bouncing, topspin lefty forehand. Those quick-reflex returns that help him break an opponent’s serve — and his will.

Doing what he does so well on the red clay of Roland Garros, a surface and site he dominates so completely, the No. 1-seeded Nadal wore down No. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 5-7, 2-6, 6-4 Sunday to win his ninth French Open championship and fifth in a row, both records.

“For me,” Nadal said, “playing here in Roland Garros is just unforgettable, forever.” (Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Is that a sceptre? Did Prince bring a sceptre to the French Open? Pop singer Prince, left, watches the fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament between Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France, Monday, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Michel Spingler/The Associated Press)

Is that a sceptre? Did Prince bring a sceptre to the French Open? Pop singer Prince, left, watches the fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament between Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France, Monday, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Michel Spingler/The Associated Press)

Stanislas Wawrinka added a win over Rafael Nadal to his list of firsts in a stunning run to his maiden Grand Slam title, extending his rival’s injury-cursed run at the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 upset in Sunday’s final.

The 28-year-old Wawrinka had never taken a set off Nadal in 12 previous meetings, but attacked from the start against the 13-time major winner and regained his nerve after dropping the third set against the injured Spaniard.

Nadal appeared to be on the verge of retiring in the second set, when he hurt his back and needed a medical time out, but he refused to quit.

“It’s really not the way you want to win a tennis match, but in a Grand Slam final I’ll take it,” said Wawrinka, the first man in 21 years to beat the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players en route to a Grand Slam title. (Photos: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images, Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal made it abundantly clear how much he missed the last Australian Open with the manner of his third-round demolition of Gael Monfils.Top-seeded Nadal trounced No. 25-seeded Monfils 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours to finish off Saturday’s program on the Rod Laver Arena, then told the crowd it was “very emotional to have the chance to play that well here in Australia after missing last year.”He skipped it in 2013 during a seven-month layoff for illness and injuries, depriving him a chance to pick up two full sets of the Grand Slam titles.Nadal returned to win the French and U.S. Open crowns among his 10 titles last season and regained the year-end No. 1-ranking. The Australian Open is the only major Nadal has not won at least twice, with his sole triumph at Melbourne Park in 2009. The Spaniard lost an epic five-set final to Novak Djokovic two years ago. (Photo: Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal made it abundantly clear how much he missed the last Australian Open with the manner of his third-round demolition of Gael Monfils.

Top-seeded Nadal trounced No. 25-seeded Monfils 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours to finish off Saturday’s program on the Rod Laver Arena, then told the crowd it was “very emotional to have the chance to play that well here in Australia after missing last year.”

He skipped it in 2013 during a seven-month layoff for illness and injuries, depriving him a chance to pick up two full sets of the Grand Slam titles.

Nadal returned to win the French and U.S. Open crowns among his 10 titles last season and regained the year-end No. 1-ranking. The Australian Open is the only major Nadal has not won at least twice, with his sole triumph at Melbourne Park in 2009. The Spaniard lost an epic five-set final to Novak Djokovic two years ago. (Photo: Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images)

With the 55th and last swing on the longest of many long points in the U.S. Open final, Rafael Nadal pushed a backhand into the net to get broken by Novak Djokovic.It could have been the beginning of the end for many players.Not for Nadal, who is as resilient as they come. A year after watching the Flushing Meadows title match on TV at home with a bad left knee, he is fit as can be — and, just maybe, better than ever.The No. 2-ranked Nadal emerged with his 13th Grand Slam title, and second at the U.S. Open, by withstanding No. 1 Djokovic’s similar brand of hustle-to-every-ball style and pulling away Monday to a tense, taut 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.“This season is probably the most emotional one in my career. I felt that I did everything right to have my chance here,” said Nadal, who dropped to the court and rolled over on his stomach, crying, after the last point, during the on-court trophy presentation. “I have to be almost perfect to win.” (Photo: Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press)

With the 55th and last swing on the longest of many long points in the U.S. Open final, Rafael Nadal pushed a backhand into the net to get broken by Novak Djokovic.

It could have been the beginning of the end for many players.

Not for Nadal, who is as resilient as they come. A year after watching the Flushing Meadows title match on TV at home with a bad left knee, he is fit as can be — and, just maybe, better than ever.

The No. 2-ranked Nadal emerged with his 13th Grand Slam title, and second at the U.S. Open, by withstanding No. 1 Djokovic’s similar brand of hustle-to-every-ball style and pulling away Monday to a tense, taut 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.

“This season is probably the most emotional one in my career. I felt that I did everything right to have my chance here,” said Nadal, who dropped to the court and rolled over on his stomach, crying, after the last point, during the on-court trophy presentation. “I have to be almost perfect to win.” (Photo: Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press)

Tennis players around the world have learned plenty from Rafael Nadal.

On Tuesday, Nadal learned something from Conner Stroud.

Stroud, a 12-year-old from Spindale, N.C., was born without hips, ankles, femurs or knees. Encouraged by parents who wouldn’t allow their son’s disability to hold him back, Stroud has been playing against able-bodied kids in local tennis tournaments, winning a couple and inspiring people young and old.

Stroud visited the U.S. Open and spent some time with Nadal, who signed autographs and chatted with the youngster outside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“The most important thing is that he’s happy,” Nadal said. “He’s able to keep practicing the sport. He’s playing tennis. That’s great for him, for the family. That’s a great example that you can be happy even if life doesn’t give you everything. It’s a big example for me and should be a big example for a lot of people.” (Photos: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images, Bob Leverone/Getty Images, Dave Dellinger/The Associated Press/USTA)

Milos Raonic called it a learning experience.

It certainly wasn’t the victory party the Uniprix Stadium crowd was hoping for as Rafael Nadal took only one hour eight minutes to down Canada’s top tennis player 6-2, 6-2 in the US$3.49 million Rogers Cup final on Sunday.

But it had taken 55 years for a Canadian just to get to the final of the country’s biggest tournament, so Raonic had much to celebrate despite the defeat. (Photos: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images, Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

THAT JUST HAPPENED. Rafael Nadal is out of Wimbledon. Yes, that Rafael Nadal. The Nadal that won the French Open. YOU KNOW. Anyway, this guy over here, Steve Darcis, who is ranked 135, just made history for knocking out the Spanish tennis star in the first round — something that’s never happened to Nadal in a Grand Slam. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

THAT JUST HAPPENED. Rafael Nadal is out of Wimbledon. Yes, that Rafael Nadal. The Nadal that won the French Open. YOU KNOW. Anyway, this guy over here, Steve Darcis, who is ranked 135, just made history for knocking out the Spanish tennis star in the first round — something that’s never happened to Nadal in a Grand Slam. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

AFTER EIGHT: Spain’s Rafael Nadal holds the trophy with seven inscriptions of his name after winning the French Open for the eighth time, defeating compatriot David Ferrer in three sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, in the final on Sunday. (Photo: Christophe Ena/The Associated Press)

AFTER EIGHT: Spain’s Rafael Nadal holds the trophy with seven inscriptions of his name after winning the French Open for the eighth time, defeating compatriot David Ferrer in three sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, in the final on Sunday. (Photo: Christophe Ena/The Associated Press)

(Source: sports.nationalpost.com)

Rafael Nadal became the first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam tournament when he beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the French Open final Sunday, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
Nadal broke the men’s record for match wins at Roland Garros, where he improved to 59-1, with his lone defeat against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009. (Photo by Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal became the first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam tournament when he beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the French Open final Sunday, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

Nadal broke the men’s record for match wins at Roland Garros, where he improved to 59-1, with his lone defeat against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009. (Photo by Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)