Rafael Nadal couldn't win the 14th Roland Garros crown in June, losing to Novak Djokovic in the semis and experiencing only the third Parisian loss. Last October, the Spaniard claimed his 13th trophy in Paris and matched Roger Federer's 20 Major titles, a feat that secured the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award for him.
Speaking about his performance, Nadal said that he had raised his level before the last couple of matches and delivered his best performance in the title match against Novak Djokovic. Despite challenging conditions and a mighty opponent on the other side, Nadal was ready to extend his Parisian reign, overcoming all the issues and a roof above his head to score a dominant victory.
Rafa's 13th Roland Garros title came following a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph in two hours and 41 minutes, earning the 100th win in Paris from 102 matches! Nadal got broken eight times in seven encounters, and Djokovic couldn't find the return magic that would challenge the rival.
Rafa had 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, controlling his strokes nicely and stealing 51% of the return points to grab seven breaks from 18 opportunities and leave Novak behind. Djokovic couldn't find his A-game for over two hours, spraying 50 unforced errors and failing to match Nadal's pace in the opening two sets.
Rafa destroyed Novak in the shortest range up to four strokes, earning his victory in that segment as they stayed close to each other in the more advanced exchanges. Delivering his best tennis right from the start, Rafa grabbed a break in the encounter's first game when Novak's backhand landed long.
Rafael Nadal shared thoughts about the last year's Roland Garros triumph.
The Spaniard seized another return game at 2-0 to increase the lead after 20 minutes and painted a backhand crosscourt winner at 4-0 to extend the gap.
Rafa held at 15 in game six to wrap up the opener with a bagel, the first in the Roland Garros finals since 2008 when he did the same against Roger Federer. The defending champion earned two breaks in set number two and held at 30 in game eight with a service winner to forge a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in an hour and 34 minutes.
They stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks, with Novak hitting a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve and propel Rafa towards the title after the Spaniard's another fine hold a few minutes later.
"I had been playing better and better during the last year's Roland Garros, and I saved my best tennis for the final. The match against Djokovic was one of my best performances in the title encounters in Paris, considering how strong my rival was.
It wasn't complete happiness because of the world's situation, but it was a massive achievement for me, and I was super happy," Rafael Nadal said.