Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career looks to have drawn to a close after the American lost to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open on Friday. 

Following a long piece in Vogue last month, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the tournament at Flushing Meadows would be her last outing.

Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

Though Williams left a glimmer of a chance that she may yet play again, joking that she "always did love Australia", she may well have taken to the court for the last time. Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

Twenty-three… and done?

Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

But she still had one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would have been the perfect farewell, but it was not to be. Will that near-miss encourage her to take one more shot in Court's homeland next year?

 

The finals hurdle

Had Williams managed to reach the championship match in Queens, she would have equalled another record.

She headed into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record is now set to remain hers for many, many years.

Top of the pile

It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

Go hard or go home

Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

 

Surface to say…

Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

She's won 541 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

The grass is greener

Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career looks to have drawn to a close after the American lost to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open on Friday. 

Following a long piece in Vogue last month, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the tournament at Flushing Meadows would be her last outing.

Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

Though Williams left a glimmer of a chance that she may yet play again, joking that she "always did love Australia", she may well have taken to the court for the last time. Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

Twenty-three… and done?

Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

But she still had one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would have been the perfect farewell, but it was not to be. Will that near-miss encourage her to take one more shot in Court's homeland next year?

 

The finals hurdle

Had Williams managed to reach the championship match in Queens, she would have equalled another record.

She headed into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record is now set to remain hers for many, many years.

Top of the pile

It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

Go hard or go home

Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

 

Surface to say…

Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

She's won 541 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

The grass is greener

Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career is drawing to a close after the American confirmed on Tuesday that the countdown has begun.

Following a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the US Open – which begins in late August – will be her last outing.

Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

Yet, her seemingly imminent retirement cannot be seen as a shock. At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

With Williams now reaching the end, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

Twenty-three… and counting?

Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

But she's still got one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would be the perfect farewell.

 

The finals hurdle

Even if Williams only reaches the championship match next month, she'll still be equalling a different record.

Assuming she does compete in Queens, Williams heads into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record will remain hers for many, many years if Williams cannot reach the finale at Flushing Meadows.

Top of the pile

It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

Go hard or go home

Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

 

Surface to say…

Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

She's won 539 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

The grass is greener

Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

Alize Cornet claims several players contracted COVID-19 at last month's French Open, but kept the outbreak quiet in order to avoid mass withdrawals from the tournament.

Wimbledon has already been rocked by two high-profile male players withdrawing after testing positive for the virus, with last year's runner-up Matteo Berrettini and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic both pulling out ahead of scheduled first-round matches on Tuesday.

Now Cornet, who equalled Ai Sugiyama's all-time record of 62 consecutive grand slam main-draw appearances in a win over Yulia Putintseva on day two, claims there were cases at Roland Garros that did not come to light.

"At Roland Garros, there was a Covid epidemic, no one talked about it. In the locker room, everyone got it and we said nothing," she told L'Equipe.

"When it comes out in the press, with big players, it will start to set fire to the lake everywhere and that worries me a little.

"[2021 French Open winner Barbora] Krejcikova withdrew saying she had Covid, and the whole locker room was sick. 

"At some point, we all might have had the flu. The thing is, we have the symptoms, itchy throat… we play and everything is fine, it's fine. 

"At Roland, I think there have been a few cases and it's a tacit agreement between us. We are not going to self-test to get into trouble! 

"Afterwards, I saw girls wearing masks, maybe because they knew and didn't want to pass it on. You also have to have a civic spirit."

Rafael Nadal's latest grand slam triumph at the French Open is "unbelievable", says Roger Federer, who believes his rival "keeps raising the bar".

The Spaniard cruised through to both a record 14th success on clay at Roland Garros and a record-extending 22nd men's grand slam title with a straight sets demolition of Casper Ruud.

That made it two from two in 2022 for the 36-year-old, leaving him clear of both Federer and Novak Djokovic, who remain on 20 grand slam crowns each.

The former – who has enjoyed a strong sporting rivalry and friendship with Nadal throughout their intertwined careers – however has nothing but praise for his latest achievement.

"I didn't watch the final," Federer told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. "I watched the quarter-final [against Djokovic] a bit before I went to sleep.

"In general, it's just unbelievable what Rafa has achieved. The record of Pete Sampras, which I beat, was 14 grand slam titles.

"Now Rafa won the French Open 14 times. That's unbelievable. I was happy for him that he did it again.

"Hats off to Rafa. After the 10th, 11th time, I already thought: 'This can't be.' He keeps raising the bar. It's gigantic."

Federer has been unable to add to his own haul of grand slams, having missed the tail-end of 2021 and start of 2022 through injury as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

The 40-year-old Swiss star acknowledged he has not yet plotted anything more than competing in the Laver Cup and Basel Open in October, stressing he will focus on achieving full fitness rather than setting a return date.

"After Basel, the season is over anyway," he added. "It's important for me to get fit again so that I can train fully. Once I've done that, I can choose how many tournaments I play and where.

"The Laver Cup is a good start, I don't have to play five matches in six days.

"I will have be able to do that in Basel. That's why I have to prepare for it in practice. I'm curious myself what's still to come.

"But I'm hopeful, I've come a long way. I'm not far away. The next three or four months will be extremely important."

On a return to top-class tennis in 2023, Federer said that such a move remained the aim, adding: "Yes, definitely. How and where, I don't know yet. But that would be the idea. Definitely."

Alexander Zverev is determined to "come back stronger than ever" after undergoing ankle surgery on Tuesday. 

Zverev tore all three lateral ligaments in his right ankle during the second set of his French Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal last week. 

The German is set to miss Wimbledon after his hopes of winning a first grand slam at Roland Garros came to a painful end. 

Zverev is ready to knuckle down with his rehabilitation after going under the knife in his homeland. 

Along with a picture of himself in his hospital bed giving the thumbs up, he posted on Instagram: "We all have our own journey in life. This is part of mine. 

"Next week I'll reach a career-high ranking of number two in the world, but this morning I had to undergo surgery. After further examination in Germany, we received confirmation that all three of the lateral ligaments in my right ankle were torn. 

"To return to competition as quickly as possible, to ensure all the ligaments heal properly, and to reclaim full stability in my ankle, surgery was the best choice. My rehab starts now and I'll do everything to come back stronger than ever! 

"I am continuing to receive so many messages and would like to thank everyone once again for supporting me during such a difficult time." 

Nadal went on to beat Casper Ruud in the final in Paris on Sunday to claim a record-extending 14th French Open title, taking his astonishing tally of grand slam triumphs to 22. 

Rafael Nadal says it is "crazy" for people to even consider him completing the calendar Grand Slam after triumphing at the Australian Open and French Open.

The Spaniard returned from his long battle with a foot injury to claim the first major of the year in Melbourne, moving clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the most grand slam titles in men's history.

Nadal added a record-extending 22nd major to his collection as he lifted a 14th French Open title on Sunday with a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud.

The 36-year-old was given a couple of injections before every match and will undergo radio frequency injections in a bid to ensure he can go in search of a third major title of the year at the All England Club.

Nadal remains unsure whether he would undergo a major operation to prolong his career, but hopes to be able to be in London when Wimbledon starts on June 27.

Success on the grass courts of Wimbledon would be a third major of the year before the US Open starts at the end of August, but Nadal insists he cannot look that far ahead on his quest for all four grand slams.

"It's crazy to think about completing the Grand Slam after Australia and Roland Garros," he told

"I don't even consider it. More than winning the Grand Slam, I would sign up just to be able to play all four tournaments.

"It's crazy. To win all four, it seems crazy to me because it is something that nobody has done since Rod Laver. 

"The one who came closest was Novak last year. It's crazy to think about it."

While Nadal remains in contention for the calendar Slam, he continues to battle through a foot injury that has plagued him throughout his career.

But the prospect of retirement does not concern Nadal, who is prepared for life after tennis given the amount of times he has thought injury would curtail his playing days.

"I imagine just as I have experienced it many times in my career that I have had to be out of competition for months due to injuries," he added. 

"I have always been happy outside of tennis. It is not something that makes me lose sleep or have any fear of my life after tennis. 

"I have and have always had many things that make me happy beyond tennis."

Rafael Nadal can make it three grand slam titles out of three if his body holds up sufficiently well for Wimbledon, says Tim Henman.

After adding the French Open title to the Australian Open that he won in January, Nadal is halfway to a possible calendar grand slam of all four majors.

That was last achieved in men's singles in 1969, when Australian great Rod Laver carried off the full set.

Nadal received injections before every match at Roland Garros to effectively send his troublesome left foot to sleep and curb pain, and he will have radiofrequency treatment in a bid to ensure he can go in search of a third major title of the year at the All England Club.

The 36-year-old Spaniard hopes to be able to be in London when Wimbledon starts on June 27, and having won there in 2008 and 2010, he will believe in his chances of a third slam on grass.

Former world number four Henman told Eurosport: "If Nadal is healthy, which is a big challenge now with this foot injury, can he win Wimbledon? Absolutely. So I think that's incredibly exciting."

Nadal now has 14 French Opens among his 22 grand slams, a men's record, and is two clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who share second place on the all-time majors list.

Federer might be finished as a force at the top level, although he appears ready to give it one more shot later in the year, while Djokovic will likely start as favourite for Wimbledon glory, regardless of Nadal's recent feats.

"In terms of who's going to end up with the most grand slams, a couple of years ago I would have said Djokovic, for sure," said Henman, a perennial British favourite at Wimbledon who reached four semi-finals there. He now sits on the board of the All England Club, the tournament hosts.

"Right now, with that little bit of distance, I think Nadal has got a great chance. It's going to be fascinating to see. You've got another opportunity in three weeks' time, so fingers crossed, I so hope Nadal can be there on grass."

Rafael Nadal says he will play at Wimbledon if his body allows him to after winning a record-extending 14th French Open title on Sunday.

The legendary Spaniard has now won two more majors than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic after taking his astonishing haul to 22 with a 6-3 6-3 6-0 defeat of Casper Ruud at Roland Garros.

Nadal's latest triumph was achieved despite the 36-year-old having anaesthetic injections on his nerves that left his foot "asleep."

The Mallorca native revealed he was barely able to walk after beating Corentin Moutet in the second round of his favourite tournament in Paris.

Nadal says he was given a couple of injections before every match and will undergo radio frequency injections in a bid to ensure he can go in search of a third major title of the year at the All England Club.

The record-breaking Nadal is not sure if he would want to undergo a major operation to prolong his career, but hopes to be able to be in London when Wimbledon starts on June 27.

He said: "I'm going to be in Wimbledon if my body is ready to be in Wimbledon. That's it. Wimbledon is not a tournament that I want to miss.

"I think nobody wants to miss Wimbledon. I love Wimbledon. I had a lot of success there. I have lived amazing emotions there. So full credit and respect to the tournament.

"A player like me, I am always ready to play Wimbledon. So if you ask me if I will be in Wimbledon, I can't give you a clear answer. If I want to win Wimbledon, of course. Let's see how the treatment works.

"I don't know. I don't want to talk about how many injections I had, because as you can imagine, I had to take a lot of anti-inflammatories too. But before every single match I had to do a couple of injections."

Nadal has ruled out putting himself through the same treatment during Wimbledon that he underwent during his latest glorious run in Paris.

He added: "Wimbledon is a priority, always has been a priority. If I am able to play with anti-inflammatories, yes; to play with anaesthetic injections, no.

"I don't want to put myself in that position again. It can happen once, but it is not a philosophy of life that I want to follow. So let's see.

"I am always a positive guy, and I am always expect the things going the right way. So let's be confident, and let's be positive. Then let's see what's going on."

Never meet your heroes. Casper Ruud was setting himself up for a fall when he described Rafael Nadal as "my idol for all my life" heading into Sunday's French Open final, and when that fall arrived it was spectacular.

Ruud versus Nadal on Court Philippe-Chatrier was a classic mismatch on paper, and on clay.

The fanboy stood no chance, swept away 6-3 6-3 6-0 as Nadal landed Roland Garros title number 14, an absurd feat of sporting staying power, becoming the oldest men's singles champion at the Paris grand slam, moving to 22 majors, two clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

If Ruud needs a little consolation, the great Federer, at the peak of his powers, only took four games off Nadal in the 2008 final.

This is not the 2008 Nadal though. This is Nadal at 36 years and two days old, a player who needed a doctor at his side during the past fortnight to allow him to step on court.

Nadal has a foot problem that is said to be incurable, but thankfully it is treatable.

"We played with no feeling on the foot," Nadal told Eurosport. "We played with an injection on the nerve so that the foot was asleep, so that's why I was able to play."

While the foot was sleeping, the rest of Nadal's body was picking up the slack.

Ruud was six years old in 2005 when Nadal won his first French Open, and 17 years later he had the best view in Court Philippe-Chatrier of the Spaniard again in full flow.

This was his first match against Nadal, although they have often practiced together at the Spaniard's academy in Mallorca, where Ruud has done much of his learning. Here was another lesson.

Nadal loves a mid-afternoon match with the roof open, and a warm day in the French capital only enhanced his sense that the place was feeling like home.

He was on top without being masterful in the opening set, simply doing enough against the first Norwegian man to reach a slam final.

Trumpets blared Y Viva Espana when he wrapped that one up, then delivered a fanfare as Nadal strolled back onto court for the start of the second set.

He receives the first-class treatment in Paris, with the king of Spain, Felipe VI, on hand to witness the king of clay scale his latest career height.

There was perhaps brief concern for his royal highness when Ruud broke Nadal's serve early in the second set to eke out a 3-1 lead, but he needn't have worried.

Ruud won a 19-shot rally to earn three break points, and that was followed by a double fault from the favourite.

Nadal later called that game "a disaster", but he should probably let it go.

Armed with a 3-1 lead in that second set, it was imperative that Ruud should build on that.

He didn't win another game.

When Nadal swatted away a forehand to bring up a break point in the second game of the third set, he had Ruud right where he wanted him, and a vicious backhand out of the Norwegian's reach secured a seventh successive game.

Number eight followed, and then a ninth as the clean winners flowed from Nadal's racket. The winners and the games kept coming.

The contest had moved into mercy-killing territory. Make it quick Rafa, as painless as possible, don't drag it out.

When he fizzed a backhand down the line on match point, way out of Ruud's reach, it was all over. Two hours and 18 minutes was all it took. With a little less of his familiar between-points faffing, Nadal might have had it done inside two hours.

He lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires with the gusto of a man who had never held it before, and that in itself spoke volumes for this achievement.

Nadal's Roland Garros record now shows 112 wins and just three defeats, and this was a 63rd title on clay – a 92nd title overall. What a career.

Andres Gimeno, also from Spain, was 34 years, 10 months and one day old when he captured the 1972 French Open title, and until Sunday he was the oldest men's champion at this event.

Nadal spoke afterwards of his determination to keep playing, keep "fighting". He wants to wring every last ounce of strength from a body that is letting him know that retirement cannot be far away, and he is getting incredible bang for his buck just now.

Which is why we can now look at Wimbledon, and pose the question: can he do this again on grass?

And if at this point you are thinking, 'surely not', just remember what he has achieved in Melbourne and now in Paris this year, and ask yourself instead: why ever not?

Rafael Nadal claimed the 14th French Open title of his astonishing career and vowed he would "keep fighting" to earn even more success.

There had been speculation during this Roland Garros fortnight that Nadal could retire if he landed the trophy, a record-extending 22nd men's singles grand slam.

Yet the 36-year-old, who has won two majors this year despite being hampered by a long-bothersome foot problem, is determined to play on until his body refuses.

He thrashed Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 6-0, reigning in Paris once again, some 17 years after his first triumph. Watched by the king of Spain, Felipe VI, Nadal was again sensational on the red clay, becoming the oldest champion.

"For me personally, it is very difficult to describe the feelings that I have," Nadal said.

"I for sure never believed I'd be here at 36 being competitive again, playing in the most important court of my career once again. It means a lot of energy to try to keep going."

Nadal told the crowd: "It's unbelievable to play here with your support. I don't know what can happen in the future, but I'm going to keep fighting to try to keep going."

Addressing Ruud, Norway's first men's grand slam singles finalist, Nadal said: "I want to congratulate you for an amazing career you are having, and this two weeks is a very important step forward, so I am very, very happy for you and for all your family. I'm very happy for you and wish you all the very best for the future."

Nadal praised his family and support team for giving him strength when times have been tough. He looked in intense pain recently in Rome, but Nadal has come back to take his career to new heights.

"It's completely amazing the things that are happening this year," said Nadal, who won the Australian Open in January. "Without you, nothing of this will be possible without any doubt.

"Especially in the very tough moments that we went through in terms of injuries. If I don't have a great support from the team – family, everybody that has been next to me – nothing of this would be possible because I would be retired much before, so many, many thanks for everything."

As Nadal considers whether he could push for a calendar grand slam by targeting Wimbledon and the US Open, Ruud will reflect on a tough first grand slam final experience.

Ruud idolised Nadal from a young age and in recent years has trained at the Spaniard's Mallorca academy.

Runner-up Ruud said: "The first thing and the most important thing is to congratulate Rafa. It's your 14th time here, a 22nd all-around in grand slams. 

"We all know what a champion you are, and today I got to feel how it is to play you in a final, and it's not easy, and I'm not the first victim. I know there have been many before."

At that point, the crowd bellowed "Ruuuuudddd", the shout that sounds like a boo but is wholly affectionate. They have taken Ruud to their hearts, and once Nadal retires he may well have his own glory days on the Paris clay.

"To you, Rafa, your team, your family, you've taken me into your academy with open arms," Ruud added. "We all hope you will continue for some more time."

Coco Gauff lost her second French Open final of the weekend as the teenager and Jessica Pegula were beaten by Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in the women's doubles.

Gauff was defeated in straight sets on Saturday by world number one Iga Swiatek in her maiden grand slam final at Roland Garros.

The 18-year-old and her fellow American Pegula started well on Sunday, taking the first set before their French opponents stormed back to win 2-6 6-3 6-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

An early break from Gauff and Pegula gave the number eight seeds the advantage, before another in the seventh game allowed them to serve out the opening set.

However, the experienced Garcia and Mladenovic found several more gears to race out into a 4-0 lead in the second set.

Gauff and Pegula - who was also beaten by Swiatek in the quarter-finals of the singles' event in Paris - came back to 3-4, but were broken again and the French duo grasped the chance to level the match.

The decider was one-sided, with Garcia and Mladenovic again taking a 4-0 lead, before eventually serving out to win as the 2016 champions were able to repeat the trick six years later in front of a delighted home crowd.

Mladenovic has now celebrated four doubles triumphs in her home grand slam - two with Garcia and as many with Timea Babos. This was Garcia's second success.

Rafael Nadal versus Casper Ruud has the air of one of sport's great mismatches ahead of the French Open title match.

Nadal's record at Roland Garros is spectacularly intimidating as he bids for a record-extending 14th title on the Paris clay, having won all 13 of his past finals.

In sharp contrast, Ruud has never played a grand slam final. Nor until this week had he played a semi-final at this level, or a quarter-final.

Nadal will be chasing a 22nd title at the majors on Sunday, and Ruud a first; and yet there are factors that offer the underdog hope, not least the fact the favourite is pushing his body into a new fresh hell every time he steps onto court.

Coach Carlos Moya told ATPTour.com that Nadal, hampered by a long-bothersome foot problem, was carrying "a lot of wear and tear".

"But it's the final push," said Moya, anticipating one last gargantuan effort from the man who turned 36 this week.

"So far, Rafa has done an astonishing job of surviving without playing his best tennis."

Ahead of what could be a far tighter final than Saturday's one-sided women's showpiece, Stats Perform assesses the form and the stakes affecting both players.


One last swing at glory for Nadal?

It has long been the case that Nadal has nothing left to prove. Yet it is the Spaniard's instinct to want to push himself to new heights, and his quarter-final win over Novak Djokovic encapsulated that drive.

"All the sacrifices and all the things that I need to go through to try to keep playing really makes sense when you enjoy moments like I'm enjoying in this tournament," Nadal said after booking his place in the final. He was the beneficiary of Alexander Zverev's injury-forced retirement in the semi-finals, and now a first career match against Ruud awaits.

Should Nadal win, at the age of 36 years and two days, he would become the oldest men's singles champion at Roland Garros in history, surpassing his compatriot Andres Gimeno, who was 34 years, 10 months and one day old when he captured the 1972 title.

No other man in history has reached double figures for titles at a single grand slam, with Novak Djokovic's nine Australian Open wins the next most in a major. Across his 13 previous Roland Garros finals, Nadal has dropped only seven sets.

Given his injury problems, it is highly possible this will prove to be Nadal's final French Open. He has an astonishing overall record of 332-34 in sets won and lost at Roland Garros, emerging victorious from 111 of his 114 matches.

If Ruud looks too closely at Nadal's career numbers, they might become dizzying. The veteran has won 62 of his 91 titles on clay, once enjoyed an 81-match winning streak on the surface (2005-07) and has spent a record 871 consecutive weeks inside the ATP top 10, from 2005 to the present day.

He has never won the Australian Open and French Open in the same year, so that is now achievable, given his success at Melbourne Park in January, when he nudged one clear of Djokovic and Roger Federer on the all-time list of most men's singles slam wins.

"We haven't spoken about number 22," said Moya. "Obviously, it's on the horizon, but that would add pressure to Rafa. It's not necessary."


Would it be Ruud to crash the party?

Nadal said Ruud's run has been "not a surprise at all", and there were some experts who fancied the Norwegian to come through the bottom half of the draw before the tournament began, albeit with most making Stefanos Tsitsipas a likelier finalist.

A curiosity is the fact Ruud has trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca since 2018, and he has often practised with Nadal. This, though, is their first encounter in competition. The last first-time meeting in a men's French Open final came in 1997 when Gustavo Kuerten beat Sergi Bruguera.

Ruud, 23, would be the youngest men's singles grand slam winner since 20-year-old Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open final. That was a sensation of a result, with the Argentinian ending Federer's five-year reign in New York, and Ruud may find some encouragement from such an upset.

Ruud leads the ATP Tour since the start of the 2020 season in clay-court wins (66), finals (nine) and titles (seven), yet all of his eight career titles have come at ATP 250 level, a relatively low tier of the professional game where the biggest names rarely compete.

He stepped up by reaching the final of the Miami Open, an ATP 1000 tournament, in April, but was beaten to the title by Carlos Alcaraz.

Sunday's challenger from Oslo, whose father and coach Christian Ruud was an ATP top-50 player in his mid-1990s prime, is a former junior world number one.

He has now become Norway's first grand slam finalist and must tackle arguably the most daunting challenge in the men's game.

Nadal said of Ruud on Friday: "I think in the academy we were able to help him a little bit. I like to see a good person achieving his dreams. I'm happy for him, I'm happy for his mom, dad.

"I know them very well. They are a super healthy family and great people. As always, I am super happy when I see these great people having success."

Nadal did not go on to say he would disbar Ruud from his academy should there be a shock outcome on Sunday.

Perhaps the thought of Ruud winning simply never crossed Nadal's mind.

Iga Swiatek said it was "special" to have produced a longer winning run than Serena Williams and ominously vowed she can take her game to another level after triumphing at the French Open.

The world number one outclassed Coco Gauff on Court Philippe-Chatrier to win her second grand slam title, beating the teenager 6-1 6-3.

Swiatek's victory was her 35th in a row, one more than Williams' best winning streak from 2013, and the Pole is the first player to prevail in nine WTA Tour finals in a row.

Venus Williams is the only other woman since the start of 2000 to have reeled off 35 consecutive victories, while Swiatek and Serena Williams are the only women in the same period to have won six titles in the first six months of a year.

Swiatek expressed her pride at having gone one better than superstar Serena.

She said: "It may seem pretty weird, but having that 35th win and kind of doing something more than Serena did, it's something special.

"Because I always wanted to have some kind of a record. In tennis it's pretty hard after Serena's career. So that really hit me.

"Obviously winning a grand slam too, but this one was pretty special because I felt like I've done something that nobody has ever done, and maybe it's gonna be even more. This one was special."

The two-time French Open champion added: "Before the match, before the tournament, I was like, 'Okay, is it going to be even possible to beat Serena's result?'.

"I realised that I would have to be in a final. I was, like, 'Ah, we will see how the first rounds are going to go'. I didn't even think about that before. But right now I feel like the streak is more important. I kind of confirmed my good shape."

Swiatek has been on another level to her rivals this year but says there is room for improvement.

"For sure," she said. "There is always something to improve, honestly. I'm still not a complete player. Especially, I feel like even on the net I could be more solid.

"This is something that Coco actually has, because I think she started working on that much, much earlier than me. There are many things. I'm not going to tell you, because it may sound like I'm concerned about some stuff."

Coco Gauff responded to a punishing defeat by Iga Swiatek in the French Open final by declaring: "Now I know that's what I have to do."

Blessed with wisdom beyond her years, the 18-year-old Gauff has made powerful statements on police brutality, LGBTQ rights and gun violence in her young life, and at the same time her impressive tennis game has continued to evolve.

On Saturday she contested the first grand slam final of her career and was reduced to tears after a 6-1 6-3 pummelling by Swiatek, who needed just an hour and eight minutes to cross the winning line.

Gauff was still feeling raw when she spoke in a post-match news conference, but she could yet leave Paris as a major champion, given she and fellow American Jessica Pegula face France's Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in Sunday's doubles final.

At 18 years and 84 days, Gauff was the youngest women's grand slam singles finalist since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004, but the 21-year-old Swiatek is a step ahead of her for now.

It has nonetheless been a fortnight of progress from Gauff, who said: "I don't know what my happiest moment has been. Hopefully it will be tomorrow if we can win in doubles. From the singles, obviously winning is the last hurdle, but reaching the final is almost as difficult because you are pretty close."

Mother Candi and father Corey brought along Gauff's younger brothers Codey and Cameron for the biggest moment of Coco's career to date. The clan have been playing cards together in the evening, and Gauff said she was winning in that contest.

The Gauffs watched on as Coco wept in her chair on court while Swiatek celebrated victory in the stands with family and her support team, the champion also sharing a hug with Poland and Bayern Munich footballer Robert Lewandowski.

Gauff reflected on the moment the tears came, saying: "I try really hard not to cry on the court. I feel happy really and sad, so it's like, I don't know how to handle it.

"I hate myself for crying. I have to get drug-tested and I told the lady, 'Do I look like I've been crying for so long?'.

"I don't know whether to smile or cry. Emotionally it's just a lot for me to handle."

But amid the sadness there was defiance, as Gauff said: "Tomorrow I'm going to wake up and be really proud of myself." 

World number one Swiatek extended her remarkable winning sequences to six consecutive titles and 35 match wins, and Gauff said her conqueror, like the now-retired Ash Barty before her, was setting a standard that the rest would have to strive to match.

"Now that I have seen the level, this level of number one and 35 matches, I know that's what I have to do," Gauff said. "I'm sure I'm going to play her in another final, and hopefully it's a different result."

Gauff, whose forehand was erratic, added: "In the match it probably looked like I was freaking out, but really it was just Iga was too good. I wasn't freaking out."

After the doubles final, Gauff will start to think about the grass season and Wimbledon.

She welcomed Swiatek sending a message of support to the people of invasion-hit Ukraine during her on-court victory speech.

"I think using sports as a platform is important," Gauff said. "For me, it's about influencing people and influencing the leaders that are in office and leaders around the world maybe to hear that message."

And as she left Roland Garros for the night, Gauff had wrestled back control of her emotions, having helped her family get over their own sorrow.

"After the match, my little brother was crying and I felt so bad, because I was trying to just tell him, 'It's just a tennis match'," Gauff said.

"I'm pretty happy and outgoing if people know me personally. For them to see me so upset, I think that's what hurt them the most. Tomorrow, or even tonight, we're going to play cards again and we are going to laugh and we are going to be fine."

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