Rafa Nadal: King of clay, King of the World

Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to win his 20th Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal equalled Roger Federer’s record of 20 majors with a pitch-perfect performance in Sunday’s French Open final.

The Spaniard defeated World No 1 Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in a two-hour 41-minute masterclass on clay to clinch his 13th title at Roland Garros.

This is the fourth time that the Spaniard has won the French Open title without dropping a set. It was also his 100th match win on the clay in Paris, and his 27th from 56 showdowns with the Serb.

“Today you showed why you’re king of the clay,” said Djokovic during the trophy presentation.

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“I have experienced it on my own skin. It was a very tough match for me today, obviously I’m not so pleased with the way I played but I was definitely overplayed by a better player today on the court.”

It marked the first time Nadal had beaten Djokovic in a Grand Slam final since Roland-Garros 2014 and avenged his straight-sets defeat in the 2019 Australian Open final.

“Win here means everything to me,” said Nadal.

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“It’s not the moment, honest for me I don’t think today about the 20th, equal Roger on this great number. For me, today is just a Roland Garros victory.

“Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent here most of the important moments in my tennis career, no doubt about that… for me, just play her is true inspiration. The love story I have with this city and with this court is unforgettable and just merci beaucoup a tout le monde.

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“I want to send a message, everyone around the world, we are facing one of the worst moments that I think we remember in this world facing and fighting against this virus.

“Just keep going, stay positive and all the very best. Together probably we will go through this and we will win the virus soon.”

Djokovic, who made 52 unforced errors on the day, said it wasn’t one of his better performances but agreed that he was thoroughly outplayed by Nadal.

The Spaniard, meanwhile, turned on the aggression and derailed Djokovic’s strategy of testing him with drop shots. Nadal slammed 31 winners and won seven of 18 break points to overwhelm an uncharacteristically shaky Serb.

Nadal finished with his fourth ace to become the oldest man to win the Roland Garros title since 34-year-old Andres Gimeno in 1972. He is also the first man in the Open Era to win four major titles without losing a set (also 2008, 2010 and 2017 Roland Garros).