Skipping a Major is never easy, especially if a player is healthy. Last year, Rafael Nadal made a tough decision, skipping the US Open and throwing everything at Roland Garros that started a month later. It turned out to be the right decision, as the Spaniard conquered at least one Major crown for the 14th time in the past 16 years and entered the record books! In February, Nadal won the season’s first title in Acapulco before heading home to Mallorca from Indian Wells due to the pandemic. Rafa spent the next six months at his paradise island of Mallorca, enjoying time with his family and leaving tennis aside. The grand champion had not picked a racquet before May, making a slow return to the practice court and trying to find the motivation in the troubled times for the entire planet.
Instead of chasing titles at his beloved clay events, Rafa had to stay at home and work on clay, making an important decision not to travel to New York for Cincinnati and the US Open. With 2000 points for the 2019 US Open safely in his bag, Nadal extended his preparations on clay and entered the first event after six and a half months in Rome. The Spaniard failed to defend the title won in 2019, losing in the quarter-final to Diego Schwartzman and returning to the practice court for more training runs ahead of Roland Garros. The Parisian Major was the last chance for Rafa to secure a notable trophy in 2020, facing unconventional conditions than ever before in the French capital and hoping to find his best tennis after playing only three matches after Acapulco!
Rafael Nadal took a gamble by not playing the US Open before winning Roland Garros.
Despite cold and rainy weather, the new Wilson balls and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier, Nadal was ready for all the challenges, winning the 13th Roland Garros crown without losing a set and matching Roger Federer’s record of 20 Major titles. Nadal praised his team after winning the trophy, saying they had to make tough decisions and feeling thrilled about how everything turned out in the end. In the final, Nadal defeated world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, losing serve once and delivering seven breaks to beat a great rival and write history books.
“After the lockdown, I went through a bad time personally; my body did not respond in the best way possible. I had many days with short training sessions and unpleasant feelings. I had the right people by my side while dealing with those problems. They pushed me when necessary and gave me the freedom to enjoy other things when I needed to. We have had to make difficult decisions, like not going to New York. Everything is good or bad, based on the final result. Right now, it seems like it was successful because I won at Roland Garros; if I had lost, maybe it would not have been so good. That’s the reality of the sport, a result-based world. We made decisions consensually and after analyzing everything. Beyond the result, I’m thrilled with the steps we took,” Rafael Nadal said.