Rafael Nadal draws level with Roger Federer after latest French Open masterclass
Even after all he has achieved at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal showed he still has the power to surprise with a demolition of Novak Djokovic to win a historic 13th French Open title.
The Spaniard’s brilliant 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory on Court Philippe Chatrier brought him a 20th grand slam crown, drawing him level for the first time with his old rival Roger Federer as the most successful men in the history of the sport.
Nadal played a virtually perfect first two sets, leaving Djokovic, who had been hoping to become the first man in the Open era to lift every slam trophy at least twice, unable to find any answers.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 11, 2020
Federer was quick to pay tribute to the 34-year-old, saying on Twitter: “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 honour 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.”
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) October 11, 2020
Nadal has always played down the importance of chasing Federer’s mark but, at five years younger than the Swiss and now three titles clear of Djokovic again, he must be in pole position to claim the overall record.
“Of course I care,” said Nadal. “I am a big fan of the history of sport in general. For me it means a lot to share this number with Roger. But let’s see what’s going on when we finish our careers.
“I don’t know what can happen in the future. I am just excited. At the same time, to share this record between us, that we had an amazing rivalry for such a long time, is something in some way beautiful I really believe.”
Djokovic was hugely gracious in the face of what was clearly a painful defeat, saying: “I don’t have much to say but that I was completely overplayed by Rafa.
“I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in great form. Certainly I could have played better, especially in the first two sets. But he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing.
“He’s phenomenal. He played a perfect match, especially in the first two sets. The third set I managed to come back. I kind of found my groove on the court, had my chances, didn’t use them.
“All the superlatives you can use, he deserves them. It’s just one of these days where you have to say, ‘Chapeau, and well done’.”
On this day in 2006: Andre Agassi announces plans to retire from tennis
The American won the career grand slam and eight major titles.
Johanna Konta could be hindered by a knee injury for the rest of her career
The 30-year-old initially ignored the tendon issue but recently pulled out of two Wimbledon warm-up events.
Boost for Tokyo Olympics tennis event as Novak Djokovic ‘has confirmed his desire’ to compete
Novak Djokovic all but confirmed for Tokyo Games.
‘Nick Kyrgios underdone, but he is going to be very hard to beat at Wimbledon’
Nick Kyrgios to cause an upset at Wimbledon?
‘I heard it crack’ – Dominic Thiem’s Wimbledon participation in doubt after picking up wrist injury
Dominic Thiem nursing a wrist injury.
Pundits raise concern about Roger Federer’s body language and ‘alarming’ attitude
“Usually you don’t see that on Roger Federer.”
Andy Murray explains why he sympathises with Naomi Osaka over mental health and media struggles
“I can certainly understand how athletes do struggle with it,” says Andy Murray.
Wimbledon 2021: When does it take place, what’s new, who’s missing, TV channels, betting, prize money
All your Wimbledon 2021 info.
Rafael Nadal ‘exhausted’ and close to ‘mental fatigue’ after draining clay-court season, says his coach
“He is going to take a well-deserved rest,” says Carlos Moya.
No Wimbledon mixed doubles with Serena Williams for Andy Murray as he confirms ‘singles is enough for me’
Andy Murray will play singles for first time since 2017.