The story of Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros has ripened like old wine in the last 15 years. The Spanish sensation crafted another unthinkable story in 2020 by winning his 13th title at the Parisian Slam, his 13th French Open Trophy. The current world number 2 thus took his count of Grand Slams to 20, levelling with long time rival Roger Federer. It was not only the win that set Nadal apart among the clay greats but the dominant manner in which he registered the victory. Rafa beat the reigning world number 1 Novak Djokovic by just dominating the match from start to finish.
The Road to Glory
The French Open Men’s final started on an unexpected note with Rafael Nadal in charge from the word go. Rafa broke Novak in the very first game and then went on a sort of blitzkrieg to register a bagel. He dominated in almost everything from serve to return, long rallies to short points looking almost unbeatable. After winning the first set 6-0, the Spanish great carried forward the aggressive business. Novak Djokovic had a few chances in the 2nd set but they were quickly closed out by Nadal with a display of astonishing shot making. The King of Clay was at his brutal best giving away just 6 unforced errors in the initial 2 sets.
The 3rd set also saw Rafa having the break points in most of Novak’s serve games. The Spaniard broke midway and it looked that his Serb rival was simply outplayed. As the match drew close to the finishing line, Rafael Nadal had a combination of a drop in level and some nerves. This allowed Novak Djokovic to break back and thus release a volcano of emotions. Just as the match began to look like a fight, Nadal again raised his level few notches up. He broke the Djokovic serve in the closing stages of 3rd set and then held his own serve comfortably to register on the greatest clay court performances. The Spanish great lifted the trophy without losing a set. Such was his dominance towards his 13th French Open Trophy.
Impact on the GOAT Race
The 2020 Roland Garros final will have many repercussions on the historical GOAT race in tennis. The number of Grand Slams is the greatest indicator on which player will be regarded as the Greatest of All Time in Men’s tennis among Roger, Rafa and Novak. The Spaniard has now drawn himself on equal footing to his Swiss rival and also has 3 more Slams than the Serb genius. The Spanish great looks in great form and motivated to add to his already impressive tally. Nadal’s 13th French Open Trophy make it 20-20 tie on grand slam count between Federer & him.
Rafa Nadal’s ever strong iron-fist on the French Open even in the slightly unsuitable conditions means that the Spaniard will be a favourite in Paris for at least couple of years more. The King of Clay has also been registering some great performances on the hard and grass courts recently. This makes him a slight favourite now to finish with the most slams in Men’s tennis. There are however great challenges with age and a young barrage of talented rivals growing ever strong. Whether Nadal’s 13th French Open Trophy take him to the highest tally in men’s tennis is something to be seen.
Roger Federer at the age of 38 is quickly running out of time and gas to win another major trophy. The Serb Novak Djokovic is looking great but with the rise of talented young brigade in Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sascha Zverev the task seems to be getting challenging each year. In Australia earlier this year, Djokovic was pushed to the edge and survived a scare against Dominic Thiem.
The Austrian won the US Open this year ending the unilateral hold of the BIG 3 on the Grand Slams. The GOAT race now seems to be getting interesting with Nadal on the front and Djokovic on the chase. We are truly living in the golden era of tennis.
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