Contenders remain in the shadow of Nadal, the French Open's mightiest warrior

Moments after collecting the French Open men's singles trophy for the 14th time in 2022, Rafael Nadal soaked up the ovation from the 15,000 spectators on Court Philippe Chatrier. "It's difficult to describe the feeling," Nadal said. "At 36, playing in the most important court of my career and still competitive. I just want to say thank you to everyone here in Paris."

The fifth seed had seen off the world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in a four-hour quarter-final epic, ridden his luck in the semis against the third seed Alexander Zverev and outmuscled the eighth seed Casper Ruud in the final to prevail – 17 years after winning his first Coupe des Mousquetaires.

Injury prevented him from defending his crown in 2023, the year that Iga Swiatek picked up her third French Open singles title.

Less than a week after her success, Swiatek travelled to Spain to give the keynote address as guest of honour at the graduation ceremony at the Rafa Nadal Academy.

"For the last few weeks, I've been looking at one quote at Roland Garros in Paris," Swiatek told the audience. "On Court Philippe Chatrier it's written: 'The victory belongs to the most tenacious'."

Nadal, said the women's world number one, defined the epithet.

"I often have the feeling that sometimes when I'm playing or when I'm doing things off court, that I should do them better or I should seek perfection," Swiatek added.

But then absolutely no one mentioned 14 titles back in 2005.


Read more on RFI English

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