World No3 Murray dispatched four-time champion Nadal 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 28 minutes in front of his home fans to record a first victory over the Spaniard in six attempts on clay, a surface he traditionally struggles on.
Nadal had not lost a set as he surged to the final but found Murray in ruthless form, as the 27-year-old claimed his second clay-court gong in a week after success against Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Munich Open last Monday.
“I have played well at Roland Garros in the past,” said Murray, who denied Nadal a record fifth win in the competition. “Last year my game was not ready to win, whereas the previous time against Rafa there I played well.
“I don’t think I would go into the French Open as one of the favourites but if I play like that I’ll give myself an opportunity.”
It was the 10th Masters 1000 title of Murray’s career but his first on clay, while defeat sees Nadal slip to seventh in the world rankings and the first time he has been outside the top five in a decade.
“I played a good match,” added Murray. “I made very few errors and I dealt with all of the nervy moments I had in the match pretty well.”