Third seed Wawrinka, having beaten world number one Andy Murray with a majestic display of firepower in a gruelling semi-final, arrived full of hope as, at 32, he tried to become the oldest French Open victor since Andres Gimeno in 1972. But when they stepped out on Court Philippe Chatrier on a blisteringly hot Sunday, Wawrinka could not find the clarity he needed.
In his three previous Grand Slam finals, Wawrinka has always found a way to play his best, clubbing those thunderous groundstrokes through the court.
"Nadal has changed his game and he is playing way more aggressive, closer to the baseline, it's a different Nadal."
"I feel that I have been playing well since the start of this season and it has been very special".
"He has taken confidence away from Wawrinka, from (Andy) Murray, even though he didn't play him".
"Physically I felt good, but mentally it was tough".
"The reality is I have not had any". Nadal is no longer the 19-year-old he was when he won his first French Open title in his tournament debut in 2005, wearing long white pirate shorts, his flowing locks wrapped by a white headband, his sleeveless shirt revealing bulging biceps.
Nadal had played down La Decima. On clay he's just tough to play. They let out a burst of claps and roars in the second set on one particularly exquisite display: Wawrinka smacked a cross-court backhand to a corner, and Nadal sprinted to his left to get to the ball, wide of the doubles alley, and whip a forehand that curved around the net post and landed near a line for a victor. There is always spin on the ball. He creates a doubt that you can not have if you want to beat him.
"For me to be here for many years is hard to describe".
This title, an unprecedented 10th at a single grand slam in the professional era, was arguably the most impressive of his 15 though as it arrived three injury-plagued years after the last one, without dropping a set and conceding only 35 games in seven matches.
"But that's clearly his best he will ever play". Reaching the final here, despite the obvious disappointment of losing, was a major step forward, as he moves up to No. 3 in the rankings. "And for the level of tennis".
"It's hard to compare with other tournaments but the nerves and adrenaline I feel, it's like no other place".
He's not the first to experience it at the hands of Nadal in Paris.
Ostapenko, ranked only 47th and just two days past her 20th birthday, became one of the most unlikely Grand Slam champions in tennis history. And he probably won't be the last.