Rafael Nadal was in full flow in court Philippe Chatrier as he defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open final to win his 13th career title at Roland Garros.
This win also marked his 20th Grand Slam victory which puts him level with Roger Federer for the men’s all-time record. Djokovic currently has 17 majors, but only one at the French Open. He was seeking to become the first player in open history to win each Grand Slam multiple times.
The Spanish star stunned the No. 1 player in the world with a rare bagel in the first set and kept the momentum with a three-set victory Sunday on Court Philippe- Chatrier. He now has an incredible 100-2 career record at this event and hasn’t lost in the last four years.
Nadal in the presentation ceremony said:
“First of all, congrats to Novak for another great tournament. Sorry for today,” said Nadal with obvious sincerity. “In Australia [last year] he killed me. Today was for me. That is part of the game. We have played plenty of times together. One day someone wins and another day it is the other. So all the best for the future, Novak.”
Then, after thanking his family and his team for their crucial contributions to his cause, Nadal turned his attention to the plight of people across the planet.
“At the same time I want to send a message to everyone around the world. We are facing one of the worst moments that we remember in this world, fighting against this virus. So keep going, stay positive, and all the very best. We will go through this and we will win against the virus soon.”
Those comments were as well received by the audience as the performance Nadal had just given against a desultory Djokovic. It was indeed reminiscent of Djokovic’s 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 destruction of Nadal in the 2019 Australian Open final. On that occasion, Djokovic had affirmed his hard-court superiority with one of the most masterful displays of his career against an off-form Nadal.
Despite the excellent rallies and amazing touch from both competitors, it was Nadal who continued to come away with the points. It led to a couple of early breaks and then eventually a shutout in the opening set.
After a narrow break to go up 6-5 in the final set, the 34-year-old closed it out with his serve.
While Nadal was clearly better overall, the match came down to him winning the key points when it mattered. He saved four of his five break points on the day while converting seven of his 18 break opportunities the other way.
It turned a battle of good rallies into a rout on the score card.
Djokovic still leads Nadal in this rivalry with a 29-27 career record, although Nadal now has a 5-4 advantage in Grand Slam finals.
As two of the greatest of all time, we will undoubtedly see these two match up again but every event is important to define their legacies. Nadal got the upper hand this time around, showing his clay-court prowess should remain unquestioned.