Five things we learned from French Open: Death taxes, and Rafael Nadal, plus Poland joins the winners’ cirlce
The rescheduled French Open concluded on Sunday with Rafael Nadal once again crowned the King of Clay while a new star emerged among the women with teenager Iga Swiatek defeating Sofia Kenin in the final.
We look at five things we learned from Roland Garros.
Death, taxes, and Rafael Nadal
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 11, 2020
The French Open is an annual tennis tournament, played on clay, in Paris. It features 128 men, and 128 women, and lasts two weeks. And at the end of it, Rafael Nadal wins. A lot has changed in 2020, but some things stay the same. This was Nadal’s 13th title at Roland Garros. The Spaniard has played 102 matches at the tournament, and won 100 of them. Not even Novak Djokovic, the world number one and unbeaten this year (US Open default aside) could prevent the inevitable.
Tight at the top
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I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory. It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport. I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone. I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.
Nadal’s victory, a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 dismantling of Djokovic, drew him level with Roger Federer on a men’s record 20 Grand Slam titles. There is an argument that the numbers are skewed by Nadal’s dominance on the dust, but four US Opens, two Wimbledons and an Australian Open crown are not to be sniffed at. Djokovic remains in third place on 17. That trio, and the equally enduring Serena Williams (23 titles), continue to jockey for their places in history in the fascinating latter stages of their stellar careers.
🇵🇱 Polish Perfection 🇵🇱 @iga_swiatek becomes the first Grand Slam singles champion from Poland and does not drop a set en route to her first career title 6-4 6-1 over Kenin.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/jRuF4jE3ul
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 10, 2020
While the men’s game may be predictable, the women’s is anything but. Iga Swiatek began the tournament ranked 54 in the world and relatively unknown outside her native Warsaw. A fortnight later the 19-year-old had swept through the draw without dropping a set to become Poland’s first Grand Slam winner. In the last 14 women’s Slams there have been nine first-time champions. Swiatek’s challenge now is to emulate Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka, rather than Jelena Ostapenko and Sloane Stephens.
Tough ride for Brits
British tennis suffered a hugely disappointing 2020 French Open, with no one making the second round in a grand slam for the first time since 2013. Andy Murray was given a tough draw against Stan Wawrinka while Johanna Konta, Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Heather Watson also fell at the first hurdle. Liam Broady came through qualifying, which was a positive, but he too did not make it any further. Watson gave a scathing assessment of the standard, saying: “I don’t really see who’s next.” Props, then, to Alfie Hewett, a winner in the wheelchair men’s singles and doubles finals.
Not quite Paris in the spring
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The move from May/June to September/October due to coronavirus made for a very different tournament, with players shivering rather than sweating. Roland Garros’ land grab, crowbarring the tournament in a week after the US Open was initially met with some cynicism. But at the end of the day another blue riband sporting event went ahead, even allowing a limited number of spectators in, which at the moment is a triumph in itself. And it was memorable in many, many ways.
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