Rafael Nadal won his fifth French Open championship yesterday, handily defeating Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 and avenging his fourth-round loss to the Swede last year at Roland Garros. The Spaniard won his first French title in 2005 and then the next three years following that. Solderling advanced to the final a year ago, losing to Roger Federer and allowing the Swiss Maestro to complete his career Grand Slam. Nadal improved to 38-1 in Paris, while winning his seventh major title. Rafa’s form was impeccable, not dropping a set in seven matches, as he moved within one of tying Bjorn Borg’s record six French Open championships. Despite the score, Soderling didn’t play badly. “I must congratulate Robin on a very good tournament,” Nadal said. “I had to play my best tennis today or it would have been impossible to beat him.” Nadal won points he had no business winning, scrambling from side to side, upward and backward, absorbing Soderling’s heavy ground strokes and then hitting winners or forcing errors from impossible positions. “That’s why he’s so good — because he’s moving so well and gets everything back,” Soderling said. “He’s a great defensive player, but also has a great offensive game, as well. He can really change defense to offense really quick.” Last year in Paris, Nadal was dealing with painful tendinitis in both knees, a problem that restricted his normally perpetual-motion style of play and later forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon, where he was the defending champion. “I lost last year because I was not well-prepared, and I had very low morale, as well,” said Nadal, never one to make excuses. “But this time, I’m back. I’m back — and I win.” Soderling had 40 winners to 35 for his opponent, but committed 45 unforced errors to just 16 for Nadal. Each player served seven aces. Nadal won four of 12 break-point opportunities, while Soderling was zero for eight. “I have to congratulate Rafa for his fifth victory here, it’s really impressive and if he continues to play like this he will have a chance to win many more,” Soderling said. Nadal will supplant Federer as the No. 1 player in the world in today’s updated ATP rankings.