Rafael Nadal had tough nine months in 2020, staying at home in Mallorca for half a year and missing the season's restart in August. Nadal claimed the title in Acapulco just a couple of days before the coronavirus pandemic, and he went home from Indian Wells.
Rafa did not train until May, staying away from the court for two months and making a slow return on his beloved clay. As was expected, Nadal did not travel to New York in August, skipping Cincinnati and the US Open and returning to action in Rome in September.
The king of clay lost to Diego Schwartzman and headed to Roland Garros with three matches in his legs in the previous seven months! It did not get any easier for the 12-time champion, as he had to deal with the new Wilson balls, cold and rainy weather and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Delivering his best tennis and passing all the obstacles, Rafa claimed the 13th Roland Garros and the milestone 20th Major crown, matching Roger Federer and entering the record books. Speaking about the Parisian fortnight, Nadal recalled how tough it was to play on a high level in such difficult conditions never seen in Paris before.
Rafa lost only 23 games in the opening four encounters and toppled Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman to set the title match against world no. 1 Novak Djokovic. One of the most important clashes of the 21st century went on with a roof above their heads, which is never the Spaniard's ideal scenario.
Still, Rafa was ready to give his everything and beat a great rival at his favorite Major, saying that clearly to Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig when they informed him about the roof. Standing behind his words, Rafa proved to be too strong for Novak that day, beating the world's leading player 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 for the milestone Major trophy.
Rafael Nadal described the 2020 Roland Garros title as his biggest success.
Nadal scored the 100th triumph from 102 Parisian encounters since 2005, a true testimony of his unmatched dominance at the clay Major. Suffering only eight breaks in seven matches, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits on the return and never losing a set.
Rafa became the third-oldest champion in Paris, extending his dominance on the slowest surface and claiming the milestone 60th ATP title on clay. Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable and relaxed on the court, doing almost nothing on the return and having no idea how to outplay the Spaniard in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage.
Nadal delivered a bagel in the opener, like against Roger Federer in the 2008 final, and served well in set number two to mount the pressure on Novak and break him twice for a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in just over an hour and a half!
Two great rivals stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks before Novak hit a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve and propel Rafa towards the title after another reliable hold from the Spaniard. Thus, Nadal saved the season and made it memorable after joining Roger Federer at the top of the GOAT race.