Nadal Storms To Record-Breaking 13th Roland Garros Title

Rafael Nadal

PARIS/STARNBERG, October 11, 2020 (by Alessandro Boroch)

Rafael Nadal equalled Roger Federer’s all-time mark of 20 Grand Slam titles by winning his 13th Roland Garros crown with an excellence of clay-court tennis against great rival Novak Djokovic on Sunday afternoon under the closed roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

In the past, both had faced each other 55 times, illustrating the biggest rivalry of all time on the men’s circuit. Djokovic entered their 56th battle with a 29-26 lead in their head-to-head series but having won just seven out of 24 times on clay against the Spaniard.

Djokovic was bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the four Grand Slams twice, while Nadal was competing for an extension of records and his 100th match win at the tournament (99-2).

Thirty-four-year-old Nadal marked his territory in Paris once more, overcoming 17-time major champion Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes.

“Winning here means everything to me,” said Nadal, after clinching the 60th clay-court title and the 86th trophy of his career. “It’s not the moment to think about the 20th [Grand Slam] title to equal Roger. For me, today it’s about the Roland Garros victory. It means everything to me. Most of the most important moments of my career have been here. I love this city and this court.”

In the first two sets, Nadal was almost unplayable for Djokovic, producing just six unforced errors and constantly forcing the Serbian to go for unreal angles on his backhand side in order to make this a tight encounter. The proceedings were actually quite competitive, but Djokovic simply couldn’t transfer it on the scoreboard, since now 20-time major champion Nadal allowed just little margins for errors in crucial moments. After the end of the second set, Djokovic had already produced 30 unforced errors.

Finally, after once again trailing a break-deficit, Djokovic was able to find the lines more consistently with his flat strokes, eventually equalizing the score again. Shortly before the set was heading to a tie-break, Djokovic started spraying errors again, ultimately double faulting on break point to hand Nadal a match-winning service game. After 161 minutes, Nadal converted his first championship point with an ace, ending the title match with 31 winners in total, compared to just 14 unforced errors.

“In Australia, [Novak] killed me, but today was for me. That’s part of the game. After all the things I have been through in my career in terms of injuries, without a great team and family around me, everything will be impossible. I want to send a message to everyone around the world. We are facing one of the worst moments we can remember fighting against this virus. [We] just need to keep going, stay positive and we’ll get through this together.”

Nadal now holds an astonishing 100-2 record at Roland Garros, not having lost a single set on his road to his 20th major singles title. He becomes the first man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam 15 years after his first one.

Mladenovic/Babos take doubles title

Kristina Mladenovic of France and her partner Timea Babos from Hungary became the first women’s team to successfully defend their Roland-Garros doubles title since 2009 following a 6-4, 7-5 win over Alexa Guarachi from Chile and US-American Desirae Krawczyk. With their win, Mladenovic and Babos now secured four major doubles titles as a duo.

“To lift here the trophy…it’s always special, but this time you cannot imagine like what relief and what pride it is to actually, even for me personally, to leave this tournament with such a reward that I cannot — I still have to, like, wake up and believe it’s actually true,” Mladenovic said afterwards, referring to her trouble in New York, where she was forced to pull out of the doubles competition due to being a potential Covid-19 carrier.

“But my body was not following. Of course, mentally (it) was tough. I had also a tough outcome in my first-round singles (at Roland-Garros). I was on the edge. I wanted to be great on court for my partner because we deserved it after what happened to us in US Open. We couldn’t compete.“