Roger Federer made one last push at Major tournaments since the 2017 Australian Open, winning three out of five Major events until the next year’s Melbourne event and increasing his tally to 20 crowns. Building a solid advantage over the rest of the Tour until Wimbledon 2012, Roger had started to lose ground to Djokovic and Nadal in the following years before increasing the lead in 2017 and 2018. Rafael Nadal had stood on 19 Major crowns following successful campaigns at Roland Garros and the US Open in 2019, skipping New York last year after the pandemic and preparing for beloved Paris.
Competing on a high level in Rome, just before Roland Garros, Denis Shapovalov knew Rafa would have a massive chance of catching Roger’s 20 Major titles in Paris despite the lack of form and matches. Nadal claimed the 85th ATP title in February in Acapulco, just before the pandemic, and he decided to skip the New York trip and withdraw from Cincinnati and the US Open. The Spaniard lost in the Rome quarter-final to Diego Schwartzman before finding his A-game in cold and rainy Paris to earn the 13th Roland Garros title and lift the 20th Major.
Denis Shapovalov backed Rafael Nadal ahead of the last year’s Roland Garros.
Despite challenging conditions, new balls and a roof about Court Philippe-Chatrier, Nadal was a player to beat in the French capital last October, winning all seven encounters in straight sets and sailing towards the milestone Major title. Nadal lost 23 games in the opening four matches, saving energy for more formidable rivals and staying composed when it mattered the most against Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic. Instead of a thrilling final between two world’s best players, Novak stood no chance in the title clash, as Nadal beat him 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes after a brilliant performance from start to finish. Novak turned the tables in 2021, winning three Major crowns and joining his great rivals on 20 overall.
“Rafael Nadal will have a great chance of catching Roger Federer’s Major record. He is very close and will try to win that 20th Major in a couple of weeks. For me, they are the greatest players of all time together with Novak Djokovic,” Denis Shapovalov said.