Rafael Nadal received the French Open title, beating Novak Djokovic in straight units.

Neither Novak Djokovic nor Roger Federer may resist Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Nadal made astonishingly fast work of them each within the French Open remaining, annihilating Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 participant, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to equal Federer’s report of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

It was arguably Nadal’s most interesting efficiency at Roland Garros, which is sort of a press release contemplating that he had already received 12 Grand Slam singles title on the identical rectangle of purple clay.

There was nothing unfortunate about No. 13. He was on job and on course from the very begin towards Djokovic, ripping groundstrokes winners, working down drop photographs and preserving his unforced errors to a strict minimal. He made simply two within the opening set, giving Djokovic little time or area to seek out his vary.

Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion, is one in every of solely two males to beat Nadal at Roland Garros. He had crushed Nadal of their final three Grand Slam finals towards each other.

The most up-to-date of these got here at the 2019 Australian Open, the place Djokovic overwhelmed Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-Three in what Djokovic nonetheless maintains was the best efficiency of his profession. Nadal may solely purse his lips, shake his head and say “too good.”

But that rout happened on a hardcourt, Djokovic’s greatest floor, at the foremost event he has received most frequently. Sunday’s payback got here in Nadal’s kingdom.

“Sorry for today,” Nadal stated to Djokovic in his post-victory remarks. “In Australia he killed me. It’s clear today was for me. That’s part of the game. We’ve played plenty of times together.”

This was not a French Open like another, nonetheless. It was moved from the spring to the autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic, making for cooler temperatures that rendered Nadal’s topspin forehand much less full of life than prior to now. The crowds had been restricted to only 1,000 paid spectators per day at Roland Garros.

It was additionally the primary French Open to be performed with a retractable roof and lights, which meant that Nadal needed to win his quarterfinal match over Jannik Sinner nicely after midnight. Because of rain within the afternoon on Sunday, the ultimate was performed with the roof closed — a primary within the historical past of the event, which was first performed at Roland Garros in 1928.

That is a substantial amount of change to course of for a champion like Nadal, who thrives on routine. But he managed to take care of custom by extending his rule and ending his dropping streak towards Djokovic.

“Everybody knows this court is the most important court in my tennis career,” Nadal stated, earlier than putting a extra somber tone.

“We are under very tough circumstances,” he stated, a masks on his face. “In some ways it’s not that happy because we can’t celebrate the tournament in a normal way.”

He added: “I really hope that in a couple of months when we will be back here, hopefully in June, we will be able to celebrate this amazing, new, beautiful stadium with a full crowd.”

Nadal and Djokovic have confronted one another 56 instances: greater than another males have confronted one another on tour within the Open period. Djokovic leads by the slim margin of 29-27.

“Today, you showed why you are the king of clay,” Djokovic stated in the course of the awards ceremony. “I experienced it in my own skin. It was a very tough match. I’m obviously not so pleased with the way I played, but I was definitely overplayed by a better player today.”

Nadal, 34, didn’t drop a set in seven matches, and Sunday’s victory was his 100th in a match at Roland Garros. That would definitely have been the variety of the day if not for Federer’s report.

Nadal and Federer have been pleasant rivals for greater than a decade, taking part in among the most memorable matches within the sport’s lengthy historical past, together with their basic 2008 Wimbledon remaining, received by Nadal in 5 units.

But Federer, 39, is sort of 5 years older than Nadal and has at all times been forward of him within the Grand Slam chase. Until Sunday.

The Grand Slam singles report has change into essentially the most important reference level within the sport on this period with Federer, Nadal and Djokovic dominating the boys’s sport and pushing one another to enhance their video games and prolong their careers.

“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion,” Federer said on Twitter shortly after Sunday’s remaining. “As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players.”

Federer known as profitable the French Cup 13 instances “one of the greatest achievements in sport.” He added: “I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”

Nadal’s 20th title will deepen the dialog about who deserves to be thought of the best males’s participant of the Open period and even perhaps within the historical past of the game (though that may be a way more tough comparability to make).

Nadal was not desirous to have that dialog on Sunday.

“I don’t think today about the 20th,” he stated. “Today for me is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent here the most important moments or most of the most important moments in my tennis career. No doubt about that.”

Djokovic takes a 5-Four lead within the third set.

Djokovic’s emotional engagement on this match has continued to rise, as has his willingness to take probabilities.

Serving at 4-4, down a break level, Djokovic fired a courageous 116 m.p.h. second serve at Nadal’s backhand, his quickest second serve of the match.

Djokovic held two factors later, placing himself inside one sport of profitable the third set and turning this rout right into a bona fide battle.

Djokovic lastly breaks Nadal’s serve.

Djokovic, lengthy thought of the game’s greatest returner, lastly broke Nadal’s serve in his 10th return sport of the match, leveling the third set at 3-3.

Djokovic obtained some assist from Nadal, who missed 5 of eight first serves within the sport, but additionally asserted himself with extra purposeful play, together with a backhand winner to seal the break.

Djokovic uncorked some emotion following the break — he has been comparatively contained all through this match.

Djokovic took a 4-Three lead a sport later, following a robust serve to internet and placing away a brief return with a brief drop volley.

Djokovic is beginning to make some uncharacteristic errors. Nadal leads 3-2.

After holding serve thrice in a row, Djokovic dumped his serve despondently within the fifth sport of the third set, hitting three unforced errors to permit Nadal to interrupt to like and prolong his result in 6-0, 6-2, 3-2.

Nadal is now three video games from his 13th Grand Slam title. He has solely confronted three break factors in your entire match — all three within the fourth sport of the primary set. Nadal nonetheless received that sport.

Djokovic had damaged serve at least six instances in every of his earlier wins at this yr’s French Open; he’s nonetheless searching for his first at this time.

Djokovic is choosing it up on his serve and leads 2-1 within the third set.

Djokovic obtained off to a optimistic begin within the third set with a maintain, simply his third sport of the match. And after holding serve in his remaining service sport of the second set, it marked two consecutive holds of serve — not normally a feat that deserves celebration for a top-ranked participant, however that’s the form of day it has been for Djokovic.

After holding, Nadal earned a break level probability in Djokovic’s second service sport of the third set, however uncharacteristically missed a backhand, after which missed one other on Djokovic’s sport level.

After being the way more exact participant early on, Nadal has hit 4 unforced errors already on this third set. Not normally a giant deal, however he solely hit six unforced errors within the first two units mixed.

Nadal is taking part in about nearly as good because it will get.

The greatest tennis participant on the earth, in a yr when he finishes the yr at No. 1, wins not more than 55 % of the factors he performs. Dominance in tennis is much more delicate than most individuals understand.

But there’s nothing delicate about what Nadal is doing to Djokovic. During the primary two units, Nadal has received 66 factors to 44 for Djokovic. In the second set, it was 34-25. That is about as dominant as a participant will be, particularly towards the very best participant on the earth.

Djokovic had a plan — use a backhand drop shot to Nadal’s backhand. Nadal knew this was coming and he’s taking part in that method.

As Mike Tyson used to say, everybody has a plan till they smacked within the mouth. Nadal has smacked Djokovic within the mouth. Does Djokovic have a Plan B?

Nadal wins the second set 6-2.

The drop shot has been one of Djokovic’s primary weapons throughout this French Open — a wise selection based mostly on the heavy, low-bouncing conditions in October.

He hit greater than 140 coming into the ultimate and has not deviated from that plan towards Nadal. But he has had solely restricted success.

He has hit a handful of winners but additionally skilled loads of disappointment. Nadal to this point has coated the shot successfully, hitting a number of winners off it, together with two crisply sliced backhand winners that permit Djokovic shaking his head.

But then there was loads of head shaking in these first two units, and Nadal is one set away from ending it.

Yes, we’re nonetheless checking ball marks in 2020.

French chair umpire Damien Dumusois down from his perch on a few events already to confirm ball marks to find out whether or not photographs had been in or out. That is the longstanding custom at Roland Garros and all clay-court occasions.

But change could be on the way. The FoxTenn digital line-judging system was examined at the Rio Open earlier this yr and was set for use at the Mutua Madrid Open earlier than that event was canceled. The French Open has negotiated with FoxTenn prior to now with out taking the plunge.

For now, the game has been left in an imperfect place with chair umpires nonetheless inspecting ball marks and making the ultimate calls whereas tv networks, like NBC and Tennis Channel, use Hawk-Eye replays to test the chair umpires, regardless that the Hawk-Eye system shouldn’t be but authorised for official use on clay.

Nadal goes up one other break for a 2-1 lead within the second set.

Djokovic obtained on the board by profitable the primary sport of the second set, however he’s nonetheless no match for Nadal’s consistency. Through 9 video games, Djokovic has hit 21 unforced errors, in comparison with simply three for Nadal.

Nadal shortly went after Djokovic’s serve once more within the third sport.

Djokovic saved two break factors — the primary by hitting every sideline on consecutive photographs and the second with a crosscourt backhand that landed behind Nadal.

But the third break level was Nadal’s after Djokovic twisted a forehand into the web.

Djokovic is hurting himself along with his serve placement.

It goes with out saying that Nadal is crushing Djokovic’s spirit by dominating his serve, however the issue might have extra to do with Djokovic than with Nadal.

Throughout the event, Nadal has continued to obtain serves from far behind the baseline, whilst different gamers have crept nearer into the courtroom to reap the benefits of the slower, heavier ball.

The option to punish an opponent who’s standing to this point again is to ship them a serve out huge, so that he’s in a horrible place to get into the purpose after the return. But Djokovic’s serve, particularly his second serve, shouldn’t be going anyplace close to the strains, giving Nadal an opportunity to tee off on the ball and change from protection to offense early within the level.

That’s how you find yourself profitable simply 10 of 22 factors on first serve and 7 of 16 on second serve via 4 service video games.

Nadal dominates within the opening set and wins it 6-0.

An extraordinary begin for Nadal will get extra extraordinary as he saves two break factors on his serve to carry after which breaks Djokovic for the third time within the set, this time from 40-0.

He then held on his serve to win the primary set, 6-0.

Nadal’s ball putting is crisp, his motion outstanding and his judgment close-to-impeccable at this early stage.

His 5-Zero lead left Djokovic shaking his head and puffing out his cheeks even after he received factors. The strain is intense, and loads of his playbook is in tatters, together with his heavy reliance on the drop shot.

Djokovic had not beforehand misplaced a set 6-Zero in a Grand Slam remaining. During the break, a number of followers serenaded him in Serbian, in hopes of lifting him up for the second set.

The one place Nadal has not had success early on is at internet, profitable simply three of eight factors to this point when introduced ahead within the courtroom. He additionally has solely received seven of 15 rallies which have prolonged to 9 or extra photographs.

Nadal gained an early 3-Zero edge by profitable twice on Djokovic’s serve.

Nadal drew first blood on this French Open remaining, breaking Djokovic within the opening sport of the match. Djokovic confirmed a heavy reliance on his drop shot in the course of the first sport, hitting them early in rallies with blended success as Nadal pounced for a gap break.

Djokovic then drew from 40-15 to deuce on Nadal’s following service sport, however Nadal consolidated the break with a maintain.

Nadal furthered his result in a double break one sport later, going up 3-Zero as Djokovic’s cross-court backhand hit the web on Nadal’s second break level of the sport.

The new roof on the stadium is closed due to rain.

With a little bit of wet climate, the roof on Phillipe Chatrier Court is closed for the boys’s remaining. There are so few followers that the rain will be heard pelting the roof.

According to French Open coverage, a match that begins with a closed roof should proceed with a closed roof, even whether it is sunny exterior.

That makes this the primary French Open remaining to be performed indoors. But is that this really indoors?

The new roof is extra of a cover, permitting exterior air to circulate inside and having little impact on the temperature. But it does have two huge results: reducing down the wind and eliminating the shadows which have been a problem for gamers throughout late-afternoon matches in these uncommon October dates (the shadows wouldn’t be current throughout the identical time and in the identical place if the event was staged in its regular May and June window).

The lack of wind ought to assist Djokovic, whose flatter strokes have much less margin for error than Nadal’s, and he additionally has relied closely on the drop shot on this event.

But that is nonetheless purple clay at Roland Garros, the place Nadal’s report is second to none: 99-2.

This French Open appeared far completely different than typical due to the coronavirus.

Usually held in late May and early June with tens of 1000’s of followers in attendance every day, the French Open made the aggressive move in mid-March to reschedule to late September and early October, unilaterally claiming a spot on the tennis calendar with out consulting different tennis governing our bodies.

The daring transfer has paid off, because the event was in a position to proceed, however not at full energy. Organizers initially hoped to have as many as 11,500 paying followers in attendance every day, however public well being protocols finally slashed that quantity to 1,000.

Matches at Roland Garros have had extra ambiance than these at the U.S. Open, which was utterly closed off to paying spectators, however there are nonetheless greater than 10,000 seats sitting empty inside Philippe Chatrier Court.

The followers inside the sector have worn masks in the course of the matches, although they’re normally clumped collectively within the prime seats, moderately than profiting from the appreciable elbow room accessible elsewhere. Pandemic protocols in Paris have tightened in the course of the event, together with closures of cafes and eating places, however the tournament has played on.

The males’s tennis tour will return to Paris later this month for the Paris Indoors Masters occasion, which begins on Oct. 31.

Max Gendler contributed reporting.





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