For the last couple of days, Rafael Nadal has enjoyed a well-deserved rest following the 20th Major crown won in Paris last Sunday. Speaking to the ATP from his home in Mallorca, Nadal said he played a perfect match against Novak Djokovic in the final, beating the Serb 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes to lift the 13th trophy from 16 trips to Paris.
At 34, Nadal became the second-oldest Roland Garros champion in the Open era, beating all seven rivals in straight sets to extend his clay-court dominance and write a new chapter of the history book. Against Novak, Rafa earned the 100th victory from 102 encounters in Paris, raising his game above the conditions, new Wilson balls, a roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier and all the opponents to join Roger Federer on 20 Majors.
Losing serve only eight times in seven matches, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits and enduring three tight sets against Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic.
In the final, Rafa had to bring aggressive and bold tennis against Novak, losing so many matches against the Serb since Beijing 2013 and delivering the right tactic to leave Novak far behind, at least in the opening two sets.
Nadal fired 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, performing strongly from both wings and taking 51% of the return points to steal the power from Djokovic's initial shot. 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 where he stayed in touch with Nadal.
Rafa lost serve once, producing seven breaks and outplaying Novak in the shortest range up to four strokes to forge the crucial difference.
Rafael Nadal believes he played on a high level against Novak Djokovic in Paris.
Nadal made a bagel in the opening set, the first in the Roland Garros finals since 2008, when he served one to Roger Federer.
Rafa faced no break points in set number two, taming his strokes nicely and securing two breaks to open a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in an hour and 34 minutes. Eager to avoid disaster, Djokovic pulled the break back in the sixth game of the third set, roaring towards his box and gaining momentum.
With no room for errors on serve, 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 a few minutes later. "Stamping my authority is not my thing.
I played an excellent tournament given the conditions, taking steps forward every day. My game was perfect against Novak Djokovic in the final. Every day I played well enough to win the matches," Rafael Nadal said.