Nadal, Roland Garros champion: Federer dedicated a letter to him 1:05
(CNN) – In this unusual and surreal 2020, Rafael Nadal carved out a remarkable piece of history by hitting a record 20 in terms of tennis.
More specifically, winning a 20th Grand Slam title to equal the all-time men’s record of his partner and “Big Three” colleague Roger Federer.
He did so by beating the other member of the elite group, Novak Djokovic, 6-0, 6-2 and 7-5, under the roof of the Philippe Chatrier Court amid the autumnal chill of the Paris afternoon.
Nadal fell to his knees after an ace in championship point in what was a surprisingly lopsided finish.
Credit: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
But this is indeed Nadal on clay. He said that the new tournament balls and the cool weather do not favor his heavy play of effects – the coronavirus pandemic prompted organizers to move the event from its usual start at the end of May – but the 34-year-old Spaniard exceeded the conditions to count a 13th French Open crown without losing a set and his 100th victory at Roland Garros.
He elevated his game to overtake his winner in his only warm-up tournament, Diego Schwartzman, in the semifinals before taking it another level on Sunday.
Nadal compiled 31 winners with just 14 unforced errors to give the 17 Grand Slam winner the worst loss in any of his 27 Grand Slam finals. Nadal has never lost a Roland Garros final, but Djokovic certainly seemed to pose a danger to him in the final.
He had won his last three Grand Slam matches and they were a serious blow to Nadal, even in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros five years ago.
The Serb had only suffered defeat in one match in 2020, that flaw at the US Open last month against Pablo Carreño Busta, and benefited from more accumulation matches in the past two months than his rival.
Djokovic suffered from neck and shoulder problems in his rematch with Carreño Busta on Wednesday, when he donned long sleeves, and one couldn’t help but wonder if something was bothering the world No. 1 again.
Long sleeves were back, two days after he wore short sleeves in his semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas that started in the evening and ended around 10:30 pm local time. He returned to short sleeves after falling behind by two sets.
He lost a set 6-0 in a ‘big’ for the fourth time in his grand slam career according to the Tennis Abstract website and while Djokovic has used the drop shot extensively on clay, he attempted a flashy four in the first game. .
His unforced error count shot up to 52.
He broke 40-15 in the opening game to give Nadal the best possible start in front of the limited number of fans in attendance. They had a limit of 1,000 in the middle of the pandemic.
The duo traded several extended rallies that saw both players off the doubles lines, with Nadal routinely coming out on top.
Djokovic was given a little glimmer of hope by saving a trio of break points to start the second, but the respite didn’t last.
In his next service game, Nadal managed a 2-1 lead.
With Djokovic unable to finish off a shot near the net, Nadal smashed a forehand down the line to rub salt into the wounds.
Djokovic’s game was a clear marker that he would not be the first man in 83 attempts to come back from two sets down against Nadal at Roland Garros and an inevitable break came at 2-2 in the third after Nadal continued to knock on the door.
However, it was not easy from there.
Nadal was broken for the first time and Djokovic enlivened the crowd with his emphatic celebration.
He began a brief revival when he led 4-3 in the third.
Djokovic was moving better now and taking shots, but Nadal met the challenge and yelled ‘come on’ to hold 4-4. It was finally a contest.
Djokovic defended himself from a break point thanks to a valiant second serve, backhand combination, but broke at 5-5 with an open double fault.
Nadal then served it up to love, crowning the historic contest with the open ace to seal another victory at Roland Garros.