They did let out a burst of claps and roars in the second set on one particularly exquisite display: Nadal sprinted to his left to chase Wawrinka's cross-court backhand wide of the doubles alley and whipped a forehand that curved around the net post and landed near a line for a victor.
"Playing on grass is very special".
"If I have pain in my knees, then I know from experience that it's nearly impossible", he said.
"I feel I was playing well since beginning of the season, but it's true that in my career I have had a lot of good years".
But this will be his last season on tour, with the 56-year-old stepping aside at the end of the year to focus on the family's tennis academy in Majorca. The Spaniard is confident that he can achieve the number one ranking if he continues his current form, but is keen to first enjoy his 10 Roland Garros success before setting goals for the remainder of the campaign. When it comes to tennis, he nearly always is.
He lost in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, where he won the title a year ago to complete a career Grand Slam. You have some that are (more) special than others.
"And because I am 31 already and not a kid anymore. If I am able to keep playing well, why not?" he said.
"In 2005, I thought in 2017 I'd be fishing on my boat in Mallorca", he said.
Mats Wilander, who won the French Open three times among his eight Slams, says Nadal is now among the favorites at Wimbledon - along with Federer.
Nadal went through the tournament without dropping a set for the third time in his French Open career.
He is not dubbed the "King of Clay" for no reason.
Nadal opened the match winning his first four points on serve. Margaret Court's 11 titles at the Australian Open are the overall record, but seven of those came when it was an amateur event called the Australian Championships. So I think the doubts.let me work so hard all my career.
Novak Djokovic slid from No. 2 to No. 4 on Monday, his lowest status in 7½ years.
Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon nine times, while Federer and Pete Sampras are among Nadal's closest male challengers with seven victories in SW19.
Nadal, never one to fuel the hype, warned against installing him as a favourite on the Wimbledon lawns where he has also lost three finals; especially as his recent record there is dismal. "That's for sure", said Wawrinka, who had won 11 matches in a row on clay.
Nadal was asked Sunday whether getting back to No. 1 in the rankings is important to him.
Stan Wawrinka said: "Rafa, I have nothing to say about today".
"It's a while since I didn't play a very good Wimbledon". And if you miss a ball, if you hit a ball short, they will attack you.
"I'm going to be under pressure in one week when I play in Queen's. So happy for everything", Nadal told a throng of media in a room alongside Court Philippe Chatrier. He admitted to nerves.
Yet, from the start, there was an inevitability about the contest, right from the minute that Nadal saved a break point in the third game of the match. Nadal's serve was a strength last Sunday, when he faced-and saved-just one break point.
It was a steamy day in Paris - temperatures hovered around 30 degrees Celsius - a boost to Nadal's heavily spun forehand that can trouble players with one-handed backhands.