Rafael Nadal defied David Ferrer as well as a worrying security breach to become the first man to capture the same grand slam title eight times with victory in the French Open final.
Nadal claimed his 12th major with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over his Spanish compatriot who was playing in his first major final at the age of 31 and at the 42nd time of asking.
It also gave Nadal his 59th win out of 60 matches played in Paris.
But the 27-year-old’s push to victory suffered a heart-stopping moment when a protester, naked from the waist up, leapt from the stands on Court Philippe Chatrier, carrying a flare and protesting France’s controversial same sex marriage law.
The protester, who was wrestled away by security staff, came within just a few feet of the Spaniard as he prepared to serve at 5-1 in the second set.
A burly security official immediately came to Nadal’s aid in front of the VIP box where Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt and Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio were watching.
The drama, however, did not alter the outcome as Nadal claimed his seventh title of 2013 after returning to the tour in February following a seven-month injury lay-off.
“Thanks to everyone in my family and team. Without their support, especially when I was out of action, this would have been impossible,” said Nadal, after defeating Ferrer for the eighth time in succession and fourth time in 2013.
Ferrer vowed to keep fighting to break the grand slam stranglehold of Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.