Número Trece

Not many players have beaten Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, only one active player had done that in Novak Djokovic, the other was Robin Soderling in 2009.

A Grand Slam win at Roland Garros this year was always going to be a tougher ask with all that is going on in the world. A new roof, new balls, a later time of year and colder weather were all the discussion in the early days of Roland Garros 2020.

Rafael Nadal came into this final knowing much more history was on the line

  • 100th win at Roland Garros
  • 13th title at Roland Garros
  • 20th Grand Slam title, equalling the haul of Roger Federer

Getting to Roland Garros title number thirteen was the quest and having spent 13 hours and 13 minutes on court to get to the final you would not have bet against him.

As I said, the early discussions were about everything but the tennis but Nadal despite his niggle with the new balls got on with it and hasn’t looked like a player who has hardly played in over six months.

With the roof being closed before the match had begun the talk switched to whether this would benefit Djokovic or Nadal with many choosing Djokovic but it was all Rafa!

The conditions have meant there has been less bounce on the ball and we know Rafa with his top-spin forehand does like to generate the bounce and Novak prefers a flatter ball. The world number one has taken great advantage of this throughout the tournament en-route to the final but maybe a slight overuse in the final?

The power Djokovic hit through in the final was greater than Nadal, 82mph off the forehand and 75mph on the backhand but Nadal was just 75mph on the forehand and 68mph of the backhand on average but he danced around the Philippe Chatrier court in sublime style.

Not many players dish out a 6-0 to Novak Djokovic but Nadal did and it didn’t have the feeling of a 6-0 set at all and that is the credit of the level of Nadal during the match. Time and time again he played with a picture in his head, he barely missed a serve and opened up the court with his forehand and struck with his backhand.

We rightfully rave about his forehand but the bullet-like backhand cross court was delightful throughout. The forehand did kick up nicely off the court to invite Djokovic but also put him on the back foot and nothing the Serb tried could break the defence of the Spaniard who cruised to the win.

100th win at Roland Garros and 13th title sealed.

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