Rafael Nadal described his “joy” at winning a record 10th French Open after beating Swiss third seed Stan Wawrinka in the final.
The Spaniard, 31, won 6-2 6-3 6-1 to secure ‘La Decima’ at Roland Garros, and his 15th major title.
Nadal – who won without dropping a set in the tournament for the third time – said he could not have imagined such success when he first won 12 years ago.
He said: “In 2005, I thought in 2017 I’d be fishing on my boat in Mallorca.”
Nadal added: “I didn’t really think I’d have such a long career and win so many tournaments.”
Nadal swept through the final in two hours and five minutes to extend his all-time lead at Roland Garros, with 10 titles to Bjorn Borg’s six in the open era.
He said: “This tournament has been very special to me, and it’s true that it is unprecedented.
“Trust me, I’m very happy that I’m the one who did it.
“If I can do it, someone else can do it.
“But you need the right circumstances, the right ingredients to win 10 French Open titles.
“I don’t know if I will ever get to meet the player who will do better than I did.”
The best Nadal has ever played – Wawrinka
Nadal has struggled for form and fitness since his last Grand Slam title at the French Open three years ago, but has enjoyed a resurgence this year.
Wawrinka had been expected to pose the first serious examination of Nadal’s new-found confidence but he was brushed aside like the previous six opponents.
“For sure he’s playing the best he’s ever played,” said the Swiss.
“But not only here. I think since the beginning of the year, you can see he’s playing more aggressive, staying more close from the line.
“That’s clearly the best he ever played. That’s why he’s winning so much again.”
Nadal’s forehand has been one of the great tennis strokes for over a decade, but his backhand has grown in potency – he added 36 backhand winners to 90 forehands at Roland Garros this year.
His game has also become more attacking over time.
The Spaniard won 60% of his points in under four strokes, 72% of his first-serve points and a stunning 74% behind his second serve.
Famously slow between points, Nadal moved forward at every opportunity once the action began and, comfortably finishing points at the net, made it through each match at Roland Garros after an average one hour and 44 minutes.
Wawrinka, on the other hand, needed two-and-a-half hours per match.
“If you play Rafa, if you’re not completely free with what you think and what you’re going to do, and not completely relaxed the way you’re going to play, you have no chance,” said the Swiss.
Nadal has been setting records since he burst on to the Tour as a 15-year-old, but 16 years on he shows no sign of stopping.
Only Margaret Court has won more titles at a single Grand Slam tournament, and seven of her 11 Australian Open wins came before tennis turned professional.
Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon nine times, while Federer and Pete Sampras are among Nadal’s closest male challengers with seven victories in SW19.
Nadal becomes the third man to win a Grand Slam title in his teens, his 20s and his 30s, following Ken Rosewall and Sampras, and appears capable of adding more.
In terms of the French Open, Nadal narrowly failed to match Bjorn Borg’s astonishing 1978 tournament, during which the Swede lost just 32 games – Nadal’s total of 35 included a quarter-final that lasted only 10 games as opponent Pablo Correno Busta retired.
However, the Spaniard’s 10 titles and 79-2 match record tower over Borg’s tally of six titles and 49-2 record.