Unlike in the previous 15 years, Rafael Nadal had to deal with Roland Garros' challenging conditions last October. The Spaniard came to Paris with only three matches in his legs since the end of February and faced the new Wilson balls, cold and rainy weather and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Delivering his best tennis and passing all the obstacles, Rafa claimed the 13th Roland Garros and the 20th Major crown, matching Roger Federer and entering the record books. Speaking about the Parisian fortnight, Nadal recalled how tough it was to play on a high level in such difficult conditions, never seen in Paris before.
Rafa lost only 23 games in the opening four encounters and toppled Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman to set the title match against world no. 1 Novak Djokovic. One of the most important clashes of the 21st century went on with a roof above their heads, which is never the Spaniard's perfect scenario.
Still, Rafa was ready to give his everything and beat a great rival at his favorite Major, saying that clearly to Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig when they informed him about the roof. Standing behind his words, Rafa proved to be too strong for Novak that day, beating the world's leading player 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 for the milestone Major trophy.
Rafael Nadal describes last year's Roland Garros as his biggest success.
Nadal scored the 100th triumph from 102 Parisian encounters since 2005, a true testimony of his unmatched dominance at the clay Major. Suffering only eight breaks in seven matches, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits on the return and winning all encounters in straight sets!
Rafa became the third-oldest champion in Paris, extending his dominance on the slowest surface and claiming the milestone 60th ATP title on clay. Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable and relaxed on the court, doing almost nothing on the return and having no idea how to outplay the Spaniard in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage.
Nadal delivered a bagel in the opener, like against Roger Federer in 2008 final, and served well in set number two to mount the pressure on Novak and break him twice for a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in just over an hour and a half!
They stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks before Novak hit a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve and propel Rafa towards the title after another reliable hold from the Spaniard.