Nadal routs Wawrinka for 10th French Open championship

PARIS — As he sat in front of a television to watch last year’s French Open final, sidelined by an injured left wrist, Rafael Nadal had no way to know for sure if he could return to the height of his powers.

For the second time in a row, the championship was being decided without him. As the 2017 edition at Roland Garros began, Nadal’s drought without a major title was stretching to three years.

It turns out, though, that he is masterful as ever at the clay-court Grand Slam event.

The fourth-seeded Nadal romped to his record 10th French Open title Sunday, defeating No. 3 Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

“I play my best at all events, but the feeling here is impossible to describe. It’s impossible to compare it to another place,” Nadal said. “The nerves, the adrenaline, I feel on the court are impossible to compare to another feeling. This is the most important event in my career.”

Nadal won every set he played in the tournament, and dropped a total of only 35 games, the second-fewest by any man on the way to any title at a major with all matches being best-of-five sets in the Open era, which dates to 1968.

“On paper, when you look at the scores, it all seems fairly easy,” Nadal said. “But it’s not.”

It marked a stirring return to the top for Nadal at the site he loves the most: He is 79-2 at the French Open, 102-2 in all best-of-five-set matches on clay.

“He’s playing the best he’s ever played. That’s for sure,” said Wawrinka, who had won 11 matches in a row on clay and claimed the French Open title in 2015. “But not only here.”

Wawrinka insisted a five-set semifinal win Friday over No. 1-ranked Andy Murray did not take anything out of him physically. The problem against Nadal, Wawrinka said, was more mental.

“He puts this doubt in your head when you play against him,” said Wawrinka, who had been 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, including a victory over Nadal at the 2014 Australian Open.