Unlike in the previous 15 years, Rafael Nadal had to deal with challenging conditions at Roland Garros last October. The Spaniard came to Paris with only three matches in his legs since the end of February and faced the new Wilson balls, cold and rainy weather and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier. Delivering his best tennis and passing all the obstacles, Rafa claimed the 13th Roland Garros title and the 20th Major crown, matching Roger Federer and entering the record books. Speaking about the Parisian fortnight, Nadal recalled how tough it was to play on a high level in such difficult conditions, never seen in Paris before. Rafa lost only 23 games in the opening four encounters and toppled Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman to set the title match against Novak Djokovic. One of the most important clashes of the 21st century went on with a roof above their heads, which is never the Spaniard’s perfect scenario.
Still, Rafa was ready to give his everything and beat a great rival at his favorite Major, saying that clearly to Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig when they informed him about the roof. Standing behind his words, Rafa proved to be too strong for Novak that day, beating world no. 1 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to claim the 20th Major crown. Nadal scored the 100th triumph from 102 Parisian encounters since 2005, a true testimony of his unmatched dominance at the clay Major. Suffering only eight breaks in seven matches, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits on the return and winning all encounters in straight sets!
Rafael nadal spoke about all the challenges from the last year’s Roland Garros.
Rafa became the third-oldest champion in Paris, extending his dominance on the slowest surface and claiming the milestone 60th ATP title on clay. Nadal hit 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, tamed his strokes nicely and stole 51% of the return points to forge the crucial difference.
Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors, unable to challenge the rival for more than two hours or win a set despite a solid effort in the third. Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable and relaxed on the court, doing almost nothing on the return and having no idea how to outplay Rafa in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage. Nadal delivered a bagel in the opener, like against Roger Federer in the 2008 final, and served well in set number two to mount the pressure on Novak and break him twice for a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in just over an hour and a half! They stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks before Novak hit a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve and propel Rafa towards the title after another fine hold from the Spaniard.
“We were in a challenging position last year because of the pandemic, and I didn’t think that things would be as good as they were. Winning the Roland Garros for the 13th time, and in conditions so different from the normal ones, made everything even more special,” Rafael Nadal said.
Tennis – Nadal overcame all the obstacles in Paris in October to claim the 20th Major title