While the likes of Boris Becker, Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Mats Wilander, Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic, John McEnroe, and even Rafael Nadal himself, were worried about the weather due to the chilly conditions in Paris this year, the now 20-times Grand Slam winner turned all the odds upside down by not losing a single set in the whole race to the title.
Let's recap all the concerns from the various voices around the tennis world that could have convinced almost anyone that this year's French Open couldn't end up in the Spaniard's trophy case.
Boris Becker about Nadal’s gameplay at RG 2020
"He usually plays Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome and comes to Paris with a lot of match experience.
This year is different (...) these are conditions that don’t suit Nadal,” said former world number one Boris Becker.
Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou about Nadal’s topspin
“For Rafael Nadal’s topspin, it’s also going to be more challenging.
One of the reasons that he is the ultimate clay-court player is because of the quality of his topspin, which is so difficult to control. It’s difficult to control because it’s explosive, and the ball is so explosive because the courts are fast.
I think the conditions in Roland Garros this year are not the best conditions for Rafael Nadal. These are difficult conditions for players who have a great quality of topspin and play very aggressive tennis because the conditions clearly will be much slower," said Mouratoglou.
Dominic Thiem about the weather being a disadvantage for Nadal
"It can be super rainy, super cold end of September, beginning of October. Maybe that's tougher for him (Rafael Nadal)", said Thiem.
Mats Wilander explained the “huge” challenge of Rafael Nadal
"It's a huge, huge difference for Rafael Nadal.
It's a massive challenge for him, and he's going to be praying for Indian summer. For Novak Djokovic, I think it's perfect. Novak nearly beat Rafa during the rainy 2012 final. I think the hard-court players will perform better because it's not as slippery when it's a little wetter and colder, the balls don't spin as much," Mats Wilander said.
Novak Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic gave no chances to Nadal
"I'm counting on Novak - Nadal in the final, in which, in my opinion, Nadal has no chance in these conditions, on this clay and with Novak, who has got into his head.
I went a little too far, but in my opinion Novak is the number one favorite. He brought his body, his head and preparation to perfection,” said Goran Ivanisevic.
John McEnroe thought the conditions were perfect for Djokovic
“More importantly to me is not that Novak got the stiff neck [during the match], it’s that he got through it.
“He is still in the Grand Slam – and if he goes through to play Rafa in the final which is what most people think, these conditions are absolutely perfect for him,” said McEnroe after Novak Djokovic defeated Carreno Busta.
Rafael Nadal called up French Open’s extreme weather conditions
Rafael Nadal inspected the tennis courts at Roland Garros and, after a few training session, he came to a rough conclusion. "The temperature is nine degrees, creating an extreme situation to play an outdoor tournament.
It will rain almost every day, with cold weather and wind. The balls are very different from what we had in the previous years. I had already trained with this ball in Mallorca when it was hot, and it was already heavy and slow; here in Paris, it is like a stone in this weather.
We have to adapt to that,” said Nadal. And he definitely did so. Nadal went on fighting the harsh conditions and raised the Roland Garros trophy above his head without giving up a single set.