Last Sunday, Rafael Nadal claimed the 13th Roland Garros crown, writing a new chapter of tennis history and following Roger Federer in 20 Major titles. At 34, Rafa went all the way to extend his Parisian dominance, winning the title without losing a set and overpowering world no.
1 Novak Djokovic in the title match. On paper, everything looked like an easy fortnight at the office for the clay king, as usual in Paris, but we couldn’t be more wrong assuming that. In this crippled season, Rafa had to deal with a lack of fitness and matches, making a slow return once the season restarted after the coronavirus outbreak and passing all the challenges to lift another trophy at his beloved Roland Garros.
A few days after the triumph in Paris, Nadal spoke about the last half a year and everything he had to endure en route to his best tennis that carried him towards another Major crown. After two painful losses to Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open, Nadal won the title in Acapulco in February.
Instead of competing in Indian Wells, the Spaniard went home and spent the next six months there, with the coronavirus halting the tennis action until August. Rafa didn’t pick a racquet in March and April, taking a little break and hitting the practice court in May.
He couldn’t pick up his usual pace, often skipping sessions and not rushing anything on the comeback trail. Rafa decided to skip Cincinnati and the US Open, working on clay and preparing for Rome. The defending champion lost in the quarter-final to Diego Schwartzman in straight sets, handing the trophy to Novak Djokovic and heading to Roland Garros with only three matches in his legs since the end of February!
Rafael Nadal spoke about all the problems he faced ahead of Roland Garros.
More obstacles waited just around the corner in Paris, with the event staged in October and accompanied by cold and rainy weather. In a manner of a true champion, Nadal stormed over the rest of the field, losing serve eight times in seven encounters and dominating from start to finish to wrap up the title in style and show his greatness yet again.
In the title match, Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, controlling the pace and preparing the right gameplan that left Djokovic with no chances in the opening two sets. The Serb fought stronger in the third but Nadal was the man on the mission, sealing the deal with a break at 5-5 to add the 20th Major crown to his incredible collection.
“On a social level, we have been living with persistent problems. On a personal level, it’s a reality that I went through a bad time after the lockdown; my body did not respond in the best way possible. I had many days with only a little practice and unpleasant feelings in my body. All of that, together with training without clear goals, makes the problem worse,” Rafael Nadal said.