‘Clay King’ Rafael Nadal Wins 13th French Open,
Equals Federer’s Record Of 20 Grand Slams
Rafael Nadal produced one of his best displays at the French Open to surprise Novak Djokovic and equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 men’s Grand Slam titles. Spain’s second-seeded Nadal edged out world number one Djokovic in a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 win, which earned him a record 13th title at Roland Garros.
Questions had been asked about the level of Nadal, 34, but he responded with an almost flawless performance.
The defeat also meant that Djokovic, who was aiming for an 18th Grand Slam title, lost ground to Nadal and Federer in their ongoing battle to end up with the most important victories.
Nadal sealed the victory after two hours and 41 minutes with an ace on his first match point, leaving the Spaniard laughing as he fell to his knees on the pitch where he has enjoyed unsurpassed success.
“A win here means everything to me,” said Nadal, who also became the first player to win 100 singles matches at Roland Garros. “Honestly, I don’t think about 20 and matching Roger, for me it’s just a Roland Garros victory. “I have spent most of the most important moments of my career here.
“Just playing here is a true inspiration and the love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable.”
Few things in the sporting world over the past 15 years have been as certain as Nadal’s victory in the men’s singles title at the French Open. This year, as with so many things around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was more uncertainty.
Nadal himself raised some doubts about his chances of entering a tournament that looked and felt like no other French Open.
He played in cooler weather than usual, with the tournament in October instead of June, and without his usual preparation on the clay courts, Nadal said it represented the most difficult test he had faced at Roland Garros. But he overcame these new challenges to possibly win in the best way yet.
Not only did Nadal win the tournament without dropping a set for the fourth time, it was the way he achieved his one-sided victory against Djokovic that made him so impressive.
Nadal raised his game to a barely credible level from the start, defending fiercely and attacking with equal effect. Everything he hit on Djokovic landed with rhythm and precision, leading to just six unforced errors in the first two sets.
Djokovic looked up at the sky in amazement when Nadal finally started making a few more mistakes in a more competitive third set, but by then it was too late for even him to turn the game around.
“Today you showed why you are the king of clay, I experienced it with my own skin,” said Djokovic.