Last October, Rafael Nadal claimed the 20th Major crown at Roland Garros, writing history books and heading home for much-needed rest. Speaking to the ATP site from his home in Mallorca, Nadal said he played a perfect match against Novak Djokovic in the title clash, 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 most efficient serving displays in Paris and pushed the rivals to the limits. The Spaniard endured three tight sets against Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic, playing his best when it mattered the most to wrap up the title in style.
In the final, Rafa had to bring aggressive and bold tennis against Novak, losing so many matches against the Serb since Beijing 2013. Determined to change that, Nadal delivered the right tactic right from the start to leave Novak far behind, especially 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 and make him struggle.
Rafael Nadal claimed the 13th Roland Garros title without losing a set.
Novak sprayed over 50 unforced errors, searching for his A-game for over two hours and experiencing a massive loss despite a solid effort in set number three, where he stayed in touch with Nadal.
Rafa lost serve once and produced seven breaks to outplay Novak in the shortest range up to four strokes, the area where he forged a crucial difference. Nadal made a bagel in the opening set, the first in the Roland Garros finals since 2008 when he served one to Roger Federer.
The Spaniard maintained a high level in set number two, facing no break points and taming his strokes nicely to secure two breaks and open a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in an hour and 34 minutes! Eager to avoid disaster, Djokovic pulled the break back in the third set's sixth game, roaring towards his box and gaining momentum.
With no room for errors on serve, Nadal held comfortably in games eight, ten and 12 and earned a break at 5-5 after Novak's double fault before sealing the deal with a hold at love a few minutes later. Novak and Rafa should be among the favorites in Paris in June, although they will have to raise their level to challenge the young guns who want to take a Major crown away from them.
"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.