‘Rafael Nadal won it 13 times, that should motivate us,’ Andrey Rublev recalls

Rafael Nadal claimed the 13th Roland Garros title from 16 trips to Paris in October last year, beating seven opponents and difficult conditions to write history books! The Spaniard had one last shot to save the reduced season and produced his best tennis despite having played only three matches since March! Andrey Rublev praised the Spaniard and his idol, calling it an incredible record that motivates him and the rest of the field to chase Major glory. Rafa got broken only eight times in seven matches at Roland Garros, delivering high-level tennis on serve and return and matching Roger Federer’s 20 Major titles. Nadal toppled Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and Sebastian Korda in style in the opening four rounds. The defending champion got broken once and dropped 23 games – ten against Gerasimov in the opening clash – in 12 sets to sail into the last eight.

Nadal needed that preserved energy to pass the young Italian Jannik Sinner, who broke him twice and served for the opening set at 6-5. The Spaniard broke back in the last moment, won the tie break, prevailed in the second and shifted into a higher gear in the third to advance into the semis. Unlike in Rome a few weeks earlier, Diego Schwartzman stood no chance against Rafa in Paris, who took the opening two sets 6-3 before wasting the advantage in the third for some drama. In the second part of the set, Schwartzman gained momentum to reach a tie break that Nadal clinched 7-0 to move over the top and avoid spending more time on the court. The most formidable obstacle stood between Rafa and the title, with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic awaiting on the other side of the net in the final, seeking the second Parisian trophy and the 18th Major.

Rafael Nadal secured the 13th Roland Garros crown last year.

Like those before him, Novak had nothing to offer against the king of clay on Court Philippe-Chatrier, as Rafa produced a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph in two hours and 41 minutes! Nadal landed 31 winners and 14 unforced errors and performed strongly from both wings to take 51% of the return points and control the scoreboard. Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors while seeking his A-game for over two hours, experiencing a massive loss despite a solid effort in the third set. Rafa gave serve away once, kept Novak’s return in the locker room and destroyed him in the shortest rallies up to four strokes.

Like in 2008 final against Roger Federer, Nadal delivered a bagel in the opening set after playing almost flawless tennis. Rafa faced no break chances in set number two and controlled his strokes beautifully to outplay Novak on the return for another rock-solid set of tennis and a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in a swift an hour and 34 minutes. Djokovic saved a break chance in the third set’s third game and raised his level. Rafa broke him at love in game five and gave the serve away for the only time a few minutes later to keep the Serb in contention. Nadal held comfortably by the end and earned a break at 5-5 after Djokovic’s double fault to emerge at the top with a hold at love and celebrate the 20th Major title.

“Rafael Nadal won 13 Roland Garros titles. It should motivate us all to try to win it at least once,” Andrey Rublev said.

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