Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met at Roland Garros in the last three years. Djokovic dethroned Nadal in 2021, and the Spaniard had the upper hand in 2020 and 2022. While the previous two encounters lasted over four hours, it was a one-sided affair in 2020 final, as Nadal scored a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph for his 13th Roland Garros crown.
The 2020 season was reduced due to the pandemic, and Nadal had one last chance to claim a Major at Roland Garros in October. Rafa had to deal with challenging conditions in Paris, seeking the 13th Parisian title in October instead of June.
The Spaniard came to Paris with only three matches in his legs since the end of February. He also faced the new Wilson balls, cold and rainy weather and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier. The final against Novak Djokovic had to go on with a roof above their heads, which is never a perfect scenario for the Spaniard.
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 before the match. Standing behind his words, Rafa proved too strong for Novak and beat world no.
1 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in one of the most important matches of the century. Nadal scored the 100th triumph from 102 Parisian encounters, a 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 to push the rivals to the limits on the return and bring all the encounters home in straight sets!
Thus, Nadal claimed the 20th Major crown and became the third-oldest champion in Paris. Rafa had to be aggressive and focused against the most formidable opponent in the title clash. He did everything right and left Novak far behind in the opening two sets.
Nadal hit 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely from both wings and stealing half of the return points to forge the crucial difference. Novak sprayed 50 unforced errors, unable to challenge the rival for over two hours or win a set despite a solid effort in the third.
Nadal defeated Djokovic in straight sets to lift the 2020 Roland Garros crown.
Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable. The Serb did almost nothing on the return and had no idea how to outplay the Spaniard in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage.
Making a perfect start, Rafa delivered a bagel in the opener and repeated what he did against Roger Federer in Paris in 2008. Nadal served well in set number two to mount the pressure on Djokovic and broke him twice for a massive 6-0, 6-2 advantage in no time!
They stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks in the middle of the set. Novak hit a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve, and Rafa clinched the title after another fine hold a few minutes later.
"When they came to tell us that the final will go on indoors, we wonder how we will announce that to Rafa. Francisco Roig told him fifteen minutes before the match. Rafa responded, 'I do not care; it does not matter; I'm going to win this match.'
Rafa had never said such a thing to me before, knowing he would not fail. He is such a humble person, and it was not arrogance; he felt confident and secure about his game," Carlos Moya said.