Defending champion Rafael Nadal took a two-set lead in the French Open final with fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
Nadal is leading 6-3, 6-2. The second set was interrupted twice by protestors at the main court. The players stopped when protesters high in the stands started chanting, and then a man with a flare attempted to get onto court. Security was able to tackle him and drag him off the court before he could reach Nadal.
Watched by Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt from the presidential box -- who was handed a blanket shortly before the start of play -- Ferrer held to love in the opening game. After breaking for a 2-1 lead on three errors by Ferrer, Nadal then dropped his own serve as he dumped a backhand in the net following a long baseline rally. Putting Ferrer under pressure with his forehand, Nadal broke for the second time to go up 4-3. Having been handed two set points with a double fault, Nadal took the first set 6-3 on Ferrer’s 12th unforced error.
Nadal took the first three games of the second set as his forehand found its range. As rain started to fall and umbrellas went up, the crowd shouted ‘Ole’ after Nadal won a point in the fourth game with a backhand drop shot.
Serving at 3-1, Nadal fended off a four breakpoints, one with a backhand winner after the longest rally of the match. The match briefly stopped at 4-1 by the protestors, with Ferrer losing his serve.
Another man wearing a mask holding a flare was grabbed by security guards as he tried to get onto the court right behind Nadal’s bench as he was about to serve for the second set at 5-1. Nadal, who jumped away as guards took hold of the man, seemed shaken as he promptly lost his serve. Ferrer then dropped his serve and the set on three double faults in a row.
Nadal is going for his 12th Grand Slam championship. He is four months into a comeback to the men’s tour following a long injury break. After a shock second round loss at Wimbledon, the 27- year-old left-hander was sidelined with a partially torn patella tendon and inflammation in his left knee that forced him to miss the London Olympics, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.
Should he win, Nadal will have eight singles titles in Paris, surpassing seven other men who have won seven major championships at one event. These include Roger Federer and Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in the last two decades, Bill Tilden at what was then called the U.S. Championships in the 1920s and William Renshaw at Wimbledon in in the 1880s. Retired American Chris Evert and Nadal are the only players to hold seven Roland Garros championships.
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