On Monday, Rafael Nadal stood with the Roland Garros trophy in front of the Eiffel Tower for the 13th time in the last 16 years. The Spaniard brought his beloved trophy to Paris's streets and talked to the media for the last time before heading home to Mallorca with his wife, sister, parents, and coach Carlos Moya.
From Palma de Mallorca airport, Nadal went back home, taking a well-deserved rest with his family following another incredible result at Roland Garros that secured the 20th Major title for him. The trophy will find its unique place at Rafa Nadal Museum at his Academy, being the one that put him on the level terms with Roger Federer for the first time in a career.
Competing in one of the most critical matches since becoming a pro, Rafael Nadal claimed the 13th Roland Garros crown against Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard produced another remarkable performance on his beloved Court Philippe-Chatrier, toppling world no.
1 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes for the 20th Major crown that ties Roger Federer's ultimate record. Nadal has scored 100 triumphs from 102 matches in Paris since 2005, a remarkable number that will never be repeated at any Major, as it seems almost impossible to play on such a high-level year after year for 15 seasons.
It was anything but a regular Roland Garros, staged in October, with new balls and a roof over the central court. Above all, Nadal had played only one tournament between Acapulco (late February) and Roland Garros, suffering the quarter-final loss in Rome and bouncing back to conquer Paris without dropping a set!
Getting broken only eight times in seven encounters, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays at beloved Major, pushing the rivals to the limits and enduring three tight sets against Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic to stand on the podium.
Rafa became the third-oldest champion in Paris after Andres Gimeno and Ken Rosewall, who did that five decades ago!
Rafael Nadal went back home to Mallorca from Paris on Monday.
Nadal is the first player in the Open era with four Major titles won without losing a set, extending his dominance on the slowest surface and earning records that will take some beating in the future.
It is the 14th season for the Spaniard with at least one Major crown, and his 60th ATP title on clay, another record that stands safe in his hands. In the final, Rafa had to bring aggressive and bold tennis against the most formidable opponent, performing his masterplan and leaving Novak far behind, at least in the opening two sets.
Nadal had 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, performing strongly from both wings and taking 51% of the return points to control the scoreboard. Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors, searching for his A-game for more than two hours and suffering a massive loss despite a solid effort in set number three.
Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to keep comfortable or relaxed, leaving his mighty return in the locker room and having no idea how to deal with the opponent who demolished him in the shortest rallies up to four strokes.
Just like in 2008 against Roger Federer, Nadal delivered a bagel to Novak in the opening set, playing almost flawless tennis and providing three breaks against the world's leading player, finishing it with an ace at 5-0 after 45 minutes.
Rafa faced no break points in set number two, taming his strokes nicely and outplaying Djokovic on the return for another rock-solid set of tennis and a 6-0, 6-2 advantage after an hour and 34 minutes. Eager to avoid disaster, Djokovic saved a break point in the third game of the third set and raised his level.
Rafa broke him at love in game five, but instead of building on that, he gave the serve away for the first and only time a few minutes later, providing Djokovic with a necessary boost that made him a contender again. With no room for errors in his games, Nadal held comfortably in games eight, ten and 12, earning a break at 5-5 after a double fault from Novak and sealing the deal with a hold at love for a massive celebration of the 20th Major title.