Denis Shapovalov's coach Mikhail Youzhny believes that Rafael Nadal had made a right move when he skipped Cincinnati and the US Open, preserving energy and focusing on his ultimate goal. Like all the other players, Rafael Nadal experienced a challenging 2020.
The Spaniard kicked off the season as the world's leading player but lost the throne to Novak Djokovic following three losses at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. After the Melbourne quarter-final defeat to Dominic Thiem, Nadal bounced back a month later and claimed the 85th ATP title in Acapulco, beating all five rivals in straight sets and hoping for more of the same in Indian Wells.
Instead of that, Nadal had to fly home to Mallorca following the coronavirus outbreak, spending the next six and a half months at home and staying away from the practice court in March and April. In May, the Spaniard hit the court, made slow steps on his beloved clay, and thought about the season restart.
The tennis season resumed in August and Nadal wasn't ready to travel to the USA after such a long break and compete on hard court in Cincinnati and the US Open, with both events staged in New York. Keeping his 2000 points from the last year's US Open, Nadal remained on clay and prepared for the second Masters 1000 event of the season in Rome.
Seeking the tenth Foro Italico title, Nadal defeated Pablo Carreno Busta and Dusan Lajovic to set the quarter-final clash against Diego Schwartzman. Struggling with conditions and an inspired opponent, Rafa suffered a 6-2, 7-5 defeat and went back to the practice court ahead of the last Major of the season in Paris.
Rafael Nadal skipped the US Open and won the 13th Roland Garros crown a month later.
Starting all over, Nadal found a perfect balance in challenging Parisian conditions, battling against the opponents and cold and rainy weather to secure the 13th Roland Garros title from 16 trips to Paris!
Rested and motivated to present his A-game, Rafa beat all seven rivals in straight sets and became the third-oldest Roland Garros champion at 34. Getting broken only eight times during the fortnight, Nadal had the upper hand on both serve and return, leaving all the rivals behind him and toppling Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the title match to join Roger Federer on 20 Major trophies.
"Nadal felt that if he played the American tour, he would risk injuries and jeopardize the rest of the season; that's the only reason why he skipped the New York trip. That's the key to his success; that smart choice ultimately represents what distinguishes Nadal from the rest of the field.
The Spaniard hadn't played a tennis match for six months and had only one goal in his head; to win another Roland Garros title. I fully understood his decision, and he proved it was the right one," Mikhail Youzhny said.