Seeking the 14th Roland Garros title this June, Rafael Nadal made a winning start against Alexei Popyrin. The Spaniard beat the Aussie 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 in two hours and 23 minutes, playing well in the opening two sets and surviving a scare in the third to seal the deal in straight sets and advance into the next round.
Nadal scored the 101st Roland Garros win from 103 matches, losing serve once and delivering four breaks of serve to pass the opening obstacle in Paris for the 17th time. Popyrin had a chance to prolong the clash and reach the fourth set, opening a 5-2 gap in the third with that lone break and creating two set points on his serve at 5-3.
Nadal saved those, leveled the score at 5-5 and sealed the deal in the tie break. After the match, Nadal compared the event in Paris with a previous year when it took place in October. Despite winning the title in style, Rafa stated the conditions were far from ideal in 2020, as they had to deal with cold weather.
Nadal was afraid of getting injured, but everything went perfectly for him, winning the 13th Roland Garros crown without losing a set and lifting the 20th Major trophy to match Roger Federer.
Rafael Nadal shared thoughts about the last year's Roland Garros campaign.
Settling into a fine rhythm, the king of clay lost only 23 games in the opening four rounds, claiming all 12 sets without any trouble and sailing into the quarters.
Jannik Sinner was ready to push the grand champion to the limits, serving for the opening set and building an early advantage in the second before Rafa prevailed 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 in under three hours to find himself in the semis.
Facing another formidable opponent, the Spaniard defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 in three hours and nine minutes, struggling a bit in the third set before winning the tie break 7-0 to set the title clash against Novak Djokovic.
World's leading player stood no chance against the Roland Garros dominant figure, as Rafa delivered a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory to secure the 13th Parisian crown and join Roger Federer at the top of the GOAT race. Nadal failed to go all the way in Paris this year, losing to Novak in the semis after four hours and 11 minutes.
"Last year's conditions were good for me too because I won (laughs). Another thing is that it was not an ideal situation to play tennis, with matches at 3 or 4 degrees Celsius. Last year in Paris, I was a little afraid of getting injured, but that's in the past now.
This year we are back to a regular date in the calendar, and I think it is much more comfortable to play in these conditions than in the others for everyone. We are used to playing like this, and I am happy with how things have been going," Rafael Nadal said.