For the 14th time in the last 16 years, Rafael Nadal will finish the season with at least one Major title on his tally. It wasn’t an easy task to achieve for the Spaniard in 2020, losing in the quarter-final at the Australian Open and with no Wimbledon for the first time since 1945 due to the coronavirus.
Nadal won the first title of the season in Acapulco in February, traveling to Indian Wells but not staying there for too long, as the pandemic locked the season and forced the players to go home. Nadal spent the next six months at his paradise island of Mallorca, enjoying time with his family and not thinking too much about tennis.
The grand champion hadn’t picked a racquet before May, making a slow return to the practice court and trying to find the motivation in the troubled times for the entire planet. Instead of chasing titles at his beloved clay events, Rafa had to stay at his Academy in Manacor, working on clay and making an important decision to skip Cincinnati and the US Open in New York.
With 2000 points for the last year’s US Open title safely in his bag, Nadal extended his preparations on clay, entering the first event after six and a half months in Rome. The Spaniard failed to defend the title won in 2019, losing in the quarter-final to Diego Schwartzman and returning to the practice court for more training runs ahead of Roland Garros.
The Parisian Major was the last chance for Rafa to secure a notable trophy in 2020, facing different conditions than ever before in Paris and hoping to find his best tennis after playing only three matches after Acapulco!
Rafael Nadal took a gamble by not playing the US Open, winning Roland Garros.
Despite cold and rainy weather, the new Wilson balls and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier, Nadal was ready for all the challenges, winning the 13th Roland Garros crown without losing a set and matching Roger Federer’s record of 20 Major titles.
Nadal praised his team after winning the trophy, saying they had to make tough decisions and feeling thrilled about how everything turned out in the end. In the final, Nadal defeated world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, losing serve once and delivering seven breaks to beat a great rival and write history books.
“After the lockdown, I went through a bad time personally; my body did not respond in the best way possible. I had many days with short training sessions and unpleasant feelings in my body. I had the right people by my side while dealing with those problems.
They pushed me when necessary and gave me the freedom to enjoy other things when I needed to. We have had to make difficult decisions, like not going to New York. Everything is good or bad, based on the final result. Right now, it seems like it was successful because I won at Roland Garros; if I had lost, maybe it wouldn’t have been so good.
That’s the reality of the sport, a result-based world. We made decisions consensually and after analyzing everything. Beyond the result, I’m thrilled with the steps we took,” Rafael Nadal said.