Rafael Nadal has been the dominant figure at Roland Garros since 2005, winning 13 titles from 16 trips to Paris and suffering only two losses at his beloved Major! Skipping Roland Garros due to injuries in 2003 and 2004, the Spaniard debuted in Paris in 2005 and toppled Roger Federer and Mariano Puerta to secure the first Major crown just after turning 19.
Rafa was the player to beat in Paris in the next three years, too, beating Federer in the final before experiencing his first loss in 2009 in the fourth round. Returning stronger, Nadal claimed five consecutive Parisian titles to complete almost a perfect decade and stand on nine Roland Garros triumphs at 28!
Nadal didn't play well in 2015 and 2016, struggling with numerous injuries and failing to go all the way in Paris, losing to Novak Djokovic and withdrawing to lose his supremacy for two seasons. Bouncing back in 2017, Nadal restored the order in his kingdom, claiming four consecutive titles to increase his tally to 13 and write the record books that will hardly be repeated in the future.
Praising Rafa and his incredible record in Paris, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stated that it's almost impossible to win 13 Roland Garros crowns within 15 years. Last October, Rafa conquered the fourth straight Parisian crown in dominant style, beating all seven rivals without losing a set and securing the 20th Major crown at 34.
Competing in one of the most important matches of his entire career, the Spaniard produced another remarkable performance on his beloved Court Philippe-Chatrier, toppling world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes in the final.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga honored Rafael Nadal and his Roland Garros record.
Thus, Rafa became the third-oldest champion in Paris after Andres Gimeno and Ken Rosewall five decades ago! Nadal had to be aggressive and focused against the most formidable opponent, designing his master plan and leaving Novak far behind in the opening two sets.
The defending champion finished the match with 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, performing strongly from both wings and stealing 51% of the return points to forge the crucial difference. Novak counted to 52 unforced errors, searching for his A-game for over two hours and not turning the tables around despite a solid effort in the third set.
Rafa lost serve once, and that was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable, losing his mighty return's magic and having no idea how to deal with the opponent who demolished him in the shortest rallies up to four strokes.
Nadal and Djokovic fought in the Rome Open final last week, and they should be the players to beat in Paris in early June. "Rafa is an inevitable favorite at Roland Garros. No one can doubt that at the moment; even those who can beat him on clay have to agree with that.
Rafa has won 13 titles in Paris within 15 years; it's extraordinary. Nadal and Djokovic restored the order in Rome and showed they are still the favorites at Majors. Rafa is five years younger than Roger, and it's exceptional that he has already matched Roger's 20 Major titles.
If Rafa wins more crowns in the upcoming years, and that's very likely, the GOAT debate should be over," Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said.