PARIS - Accustomed to being on the move, Rafael Nadal fidgeted in his chair during a changeover one game from his fifth French Open title.

He jiggled his legs, took two bites of a banana, toweled off his arms and face, then rose and finished the job. Soon he was back in the chair sobbing into the towel, overcome with the emotion that accompanied his accomplishment.

The relentless Spaniard reclaimed his crown Sunday as the King of Clay, avenging his lone Roland Garros defeat by beating Robin Soderling, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

"It's the most emotional day in my career," Nadal told the crowd in French.

"It was a difficult year for me last year," he said. "It was difficult to accept the injuries and everything."

The victory ended his longest Grand Slam drought since winning his first major title at Roland Garros in 2005.

Seeded second, Nadal won with dogged defense, chasing down shots all over the court. He swept seven consecutive games midway through the match and held every serve, saving all eight break points he faced.

Nadal improved to 38-1 at Roland Garros, with the only loss to Soderling in the fourth round a year ago.

"I played my best match against you," Nadal told the big-swinging Swede during the trophy ceremony. "If not, it's going to be impossible to beat you."

Nadal became the second man to win the French Open at least five times, and next year he'll have a chance to match Bjorn Borg's record of six titles.

"It's really impressive," Soderling told Nadal. "If you continue like this, you will sure have the chance to win many more."

With the victory, Nadal will also reclaim the No. 1 ranking Monday, supplanting Roger Federer.

"I was very nervous during all the tournament," Nadal said. "Today I was ready to play with calm. It was a very special day."