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Nadal’s Dominance At Roland Garros Continues
Thursday, 10/22/2020
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Rafael Nadal made history at Roland Garros as he defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to clinch his 13th French Open title and 20th overall Grand Slam title. The Spaniard now joins Roger Federer in the history books with the most major victories in the Open era.

Nadal’s campaign was highlighted by scintillating form as he went through the rounds without dropping a set, and he underscored that flawless run in a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 final victory that took just two hours and 41 minutes to dispatch his arch rival.

“Today you showed why you're the 'King of Clay,'" said Djokovic during the trophy presentation. "I've experienced it in my own skin. It was a very tough match for me today. Obviously, I'm not so pleased with the way I played. I was definitely overplayed by a better player today on the court."

Going into the tournament, Nadal, who by all accounts is the undisputed “King of Clay,” wasn’t the prohibitive favorite to win Roland Garros.  

NBC analyst Maria Carrillo ahead of the tournament said Djokovic was “well positioned” to dethrone Rafa from his kingly perch over the Parisienne clay at the rescheduled French Open.

John McEnroe gave an enthusiastic interview in which he praised Novak Djokovic and expressed his belief that Nole had a great shot at winning the 2020 French Open title.

“I rate Novak’s chances as highly as high as Rafa’s at the French Open,” said the 7-time grand slam champion John McEnroe.

The French Open normally gets underway late in May to early June. However, in spring, at the height of the first wave of the global coronavirus pandemic, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) decided to reschedule the event to late September.

Spaniards love the sun, and Rafael Nadal is no different. The most important part of the clay-court swing that features the French Open at its pinnacle, is played from April to June, in the warm European spring and early summer. Clay courts play harder and balls bounce higher in hot conditions, and these two aspects have long played into Nadal’s hands, complimenting his gritty style of play.

With the French Open moving to September when chillier conditions prevail in Europe, it presented a new dimension to the event, as well to Nadal’s aura of invincibility on possibly tennis’ most demanding surface. The perceived advantage Nadal had under warmer conditions was eliminated entirely, and that in turn seemed to diminish Nadal’s odds to win on his beloved clay at this year’s French Open.

Moreover, the tournament made a decision to introduce a controversial new ball as well that, in many experts’ eyes, favored Djokovic.

Nadal is a creature of habit, change doesn’t go down well with him often. Predictably, the decision to debut a new ball was a concern for Nadal’s camp – a concern Nadal himself shared on Media Day, on the Friday before the tournament got underway.

“The situation is special,’’ Nadal said to the media. “The conditions are the most difficult for me ever for so many different facts. The ball is completely different — super slow and heavy. Slow conditions, the preparations have been less than usual. But I’m here to fight. I’ll try to find the positive vibes.”

Even Djokovic alluded to the unfamiliar conditions in his post-match interview, admitting that he too had felt he might have the advantage over Nadal as a result.

“I was also thinking that these conditions are more favorable to me," Djokovic admitted in his post-match news conference. "I was feeling great throughout the tournament, playing great tennis, winning in Rome, being very confident about my game. But yeah, Rafa has proved everybody wrong. He just played a fantastic match today."

So, he did. Doing so without dropping a set on route to the title for the fourth time in his career. And, the Spaniard isn’t even done yet.

Nadal’s reign over Roland Garros is arguably the most dominant feat in all of sport, unlikely to be repeated in our lifetimes. And most experts predict that the Spaniard could easily add at least another three French Open titles to his Parisienne haul, and end up with as many as 15 Roland Garros titles before he calls time on his career.