Greg Rusedski: 'Rafael Nadal doesn't need to play much to win Roland Garros'
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 10737
Rafael Nadal claimed the 13th Roland Garros title from 16 trips to Paris in October, beating seven opponents and difficult conditions to extend his reign. The Spaniard had one last shot to save the plagued season, producing his best tennis despite having played only three matches since March!
Winning the 85th ATP title in Acapulco in February, Nadal stayed away from the practice court until May and the official one until September, making a comeback in Rome and losing to Diego Schwartzman in the quarters. Praising the 20-time Major champion, Greg Rusedski said that Rafa doesn't need too many matches to be the favorite at Roland Garros but only good preparation.
The Spaniard suffered only eight breaks in seven encounters in the French capital, delivering incredible numbers on both serve and return to leave all the rivals behind and defend the crown. In the opening four rounds, Rafa toppled Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and Sebastian Korda without breaking a sweat, getting broken once and dropping 23 games - ten against Gerasimov in the opening match - in 12 sets to sail into the quarters.
Nadal needed that saved energy to pass the young Italian Jannik Sinner, who broke Rafa twice and served for the opening set at 6-5. The 12-time Roland Garros champion broke back in the last moment and won the tie break, prevailing in the second and shifting into a higher gear in the third to advance into the semis.
Unlike in Rome, Diego Schwartzman stood no chance in Paris, with Rafa taking the opening two sets 6-3 before wasting the lead in the third for some drama. Schwartzman gained momentum in the second part of the set to reach a tie break that Nadal clinched 7-0 to move over the top in style.
Rafael Nadal played three matches between March and late September.
The most formidable obstacle stood between Rafael Nadal and the title, with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic awaiting on the other side of the net in the title clash, seeking the second Parisian trophy.
Like those before him, Novak had nothing to offer against mighty Rafa, who produced a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph in two hours and 41 minutes for the fourth Major crown without losing a set! Nadal landed 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, performed strongly from both wings and took 51% of the return points to control the scoreboard and march over the top.
Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors, seeking his A-game for over two hours and suffering a massive loss despite a solid effort in the last set. Rafa gave serve away once, keeping Novak's return in the locker room and destroying him in the shortest rallies up to four strokes.
Like in 2008 final against Roger Federer, Nadal delivered a bagel in the opening set, playing almost flawless tennis and presenting three breaks against the world's leading player to seal it with an ace at 5-0 after 45 minutes.
Rafa faced no break chances in set number two, taming his strokes beautifully and outplaying Novak on the return for another rock-solid set of tennis and a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in a swift 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 and gave the serve away for the only time a few minutes later to keep the Serb in contention. Nadal held comfortably in games eight, ten and 12, earned a break at 5-5 after a double fault from Novak and moved over the top with a hold at love for a massive celebration of the 20th Major title.