The battle of the world's leading players is up and running on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the winners of 13 of the previous 15 Roland Garros titles, are fighting in their ninth Major final, matching the record set by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the Australian Open a few years ago.
In the opening set, it was all about the 12-time champion from Spain, with the king of clay delivering a bagel against world no. 1 for the best possible start. It is the first 6-0 set in Roland Garros finals since 2008 when Rafa produced one against Roger Federer, making the most decisive start and standing two sets away from the 20th Major crown.
Serving at 76%, Rafa fended off all three break points, staying on a high level behind the initial shot like in the entire tournament and stealing Novak's serve thrice. Playing aggressive and precise tennis, Nadal fired ten winners and two unforced errors, leaving Djokovic on 11 winners and 13 unforced errors.
Rafael Nadal is 6-0 up against Novak Djokovic in Roland Garros final.
The Serb lost a staggering 62% of the points behind the initial shot, unable to impose his strokes and move Nadal from the comfort zone. Rafa had a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes, playing well behind serve and the first groundstroke (or return) to forge the advantage.
Nadal is 111-0 when he wins the first set in the best-of-five encounters on clay, hoping to maintain the record and finish with another trophy in his hands. Novak wasted game points in the clash's first game, suffering a break when his backhand landed wide.
The Spaniard confirmed the lead after deuce in game two and grabbed another break when Djokovic netted a backhand for 3-0 after 20 minutes. Serving in game four, Rafa had to dig deep to keep the serve intact, fending off three break chances and closing the game with an ace to extend the gap.
From 40-0, Novak suffered another blow in game five, getting broken after a backhand crosscourt winner from Nadal, who secured the first set with an ace in game six for a perfect start. "The only thing I know is to compete against Novak, I need to play my best.
Without playing my best tennis, the situation is complicated. I know that it is a court that I have been playing well for such a long time, so that helps. But at the same time, he has an amazing record here, too, being in the final rounds almost every time. It is one of the toughest opponents possible," Rafael Nadal said before the final.