Spain’s Rafael Nadal created history as he beat Serbian Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in straight-sets to win a record-extending 13th French Open title on Sunday (October 11). Nadal has thus matched Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal now sits atop the Grand Slam charts alongside Federer with 20 Grand Slams with Djokovic, the next on the list with 17 major titles to his name.
The Spaniard fully justified his tag of ‘The King of Clay’ with a commanding performance over the World No. 1 Djokovic. Nadal, 34, brushed aside pre-match assumptions that he would find it difficult this year under the chilly conditions as the tournament was delayed by almost 4 months. He captured the title without dropping a set during the two weeks at Roland Garros.
Nadal started the match in decimating fashion, handing Djokovic his first bagel in a Grand Slam final. He attacked Djokovic’s backhand with some looping drives with his trademark top-spin – which dissuaded Djokovic from playing with his natural flair. Although, in each game Djokovic showcased his defensive skills, Nadal proved to be too hot too handle.
Djokovic, 33, could do little as Nadal hit him out of the park in the opening set – breaking him three times. The spaniard hit winners at will and his defensive skills on the famed clay of Roland Garros ensured that Nadal came out on top almost everytime in the early exchanges.
The Serbian, finally managed to open his account in the first game of the second set but before he could catch a breath, Nadal broke him twice and reached 5-1. Djokovic then won his second game but Nadal grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck as he closed out the second set 6-2.
Djokovic, one of only two men to beat Nadal at Roland Garros, gave a glimmer of hope to his fans as the match remained on serve in the third set. Nadal started to lok like a mere mortal in the third set and began commiting a few errors. He somehow managed to hold his serve twice but the Spaniard resumed normal service on the day by breaking Djokovic in the fifth game.
With his back against the wall and a mountain to climb – Djokovic broke Nadal for the the first time in the match to level the set. Djokovic roared in celebration much to the amusement of his fans at the sparsely filled Philippe Chatrier stadium. Djokovic followed it up by holding his serve and taking the lead in the set.
The set remained on serve and went to 5-5 but then Nadal broke again in the 11th game and held his serve to love to wrap-up his 20th Grand Slam title.
Djokovic was thus handed his first defeat of 2020 (He was disqualified in the recent US Open). Nadal, 34, would now be the front runner to go ahead of Federer – who had decided to skip the 2020 season following a knee surgery.
Federer, 39, is expected to return to the court at Australian Open 2021 – in what might be his final season on the tour as he turns 40 next year.