With the victory Nadal became the first man in history to win any of the Slams eight times and also became the most successful player ever at the French Open, with 59 victories and just one loss to his name in nine years.
Nadal, who had beaten Ferrer in 16 consecutive clay court clashes coming into the match, made a unsurprisingly confident start, breaking his opponent’s serve in just the third game.
But Ferrer, playing in his first Grand Slam final in 42 attempts, surprised many by breaking straight back, forcing Nadal deep behind the baseline and drawing a backhand into the net to get things back on level terms.
Nadal re-established the break lead in the seventh game before going on to seal the opening set two games later when Ferrer threw in a double fault and a backhand into the net.
The third and second sets were unfortunately notable as much for their off-court drama as much as the on-court action.
Nadal secured an early break in the second game of the second set, before the rain which had begun to fall late in the first set got heavier and began to cause a few problems for the two players, although there was no delay until early in the third set.
Ferrer enjoyed break back points in the fourth game but could not take advantage of them and the second set looked over when Nadal broke for a second time to leave himself serving for the set at 5-1 up.
But with two protesters having already been removed from the back of the stands, there was another delay to proceedings when a spectator got on to court with a flare and headed for where Nadal was preparing to serve.
Security quickly neutralised the threat, hustling the man off court while racing across to the players in case any further trouble began.
Ferrer seemed less rattled by the incident that Nadal, immediately breaking back with a trip into the net and a backhand stop volley winner.
But he could not prolong the set any longer as Nadal broke to seal the two-set lead in the very next game.
The early stages of the third set were all about Nadal as he again broke early on, a smash winner and a lunging forehand volley winner doing the damage for the younger Spaniard.
But once again Ferrer broke back immediately, leaping all over the serve of Nadal and applying enough pressure that the younger Spaniard slapped down a double fault to concede.
A short rain delay followed although the players did not leave the court with the rain quickly receding back to drizzle that allowed play to continue.
Ferrer stuck with Nadal longer in the third set than he had managed for in each of the other two, but Nadal could sense the finish line and broke in the eighth game, at the second time of asking, when Ferrer slapped down his fifth double fault of the afternoon.
The defending champion then serve out the match to love, a ferocious inside-out forehand winner across court a fitting way for Nadal to seal the match and make history in Paris.
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