Nadal ties Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles

Nadal ties Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles
13th FRENCH OPEN TITLE. Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the trophy during the awarding ceremony after winning the men's singles final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the French Open tennis tournament 2020 at Roland Garros in Paris, France on Oct. 11, 2020. It was Nadal’s 13th French Open title, equaling Roger Federer's men's all-time record of winning 20 Grand Slam singles titles. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

PARIS – In a year change, one thing remains constant at Roland Garros, where Rafael Nadal is always the winner.

The Spaniard rewrote history again in Paris after sweeping old rival and top seed Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the men’s singles final on Sunday, lifting his 13th La Coupe des Mousquetaires and equaling Roger Federer’s men’s all-time record of winning 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

It was his milestone 100th win at Roland Garros, against just two defeats, since his debut at the clay major in 2005.

“What you are doing in this court is unbelievable. Not just this court — throughout your entire career, you’ve been a great champion,” Djokovic told Nadal during the trophy presentation on the Court Philippe Chatrier. “Today you showed why you are King of the Clay.”

The two greats had met more than any other two players in the Open era, a record 55 times before Sunday’s showdown, with Djokovic holding a 29-26 lead.

But the 56th meeting was a surprising one.

Nadal played calmly and confidently, just like he did in the previous six rounds, during which he didn’t drop a set. On the other side, the world No. 1 lacked energy and precision, even in his drop shots, which he used a lot throughout the tournament, but didn’t work this time, only bringing him many unforced errors.

“I was under doubt before the match. But it’s true that my level of confidence and tennis have been improving every single day during the whole tournament,” said Nadal. “Of course I played at an amazing level of tennis, for two sets and a half I played great. I can’t say another thing. It’s impossible to have this score against him without playing great.”

Facing a perfect Nadal, Djokovic was unable to hold any of his three service games in the first set, and finally secured his first service of the match in the opening game of the second set, after saving three breakpoints. But the Spaniard quickly broke twice in the third and fifth game to storm to a 4-1 lead.

“I don’t have much to say but that I was completely overplayed by Rafa, by a better player on the court,” said Djokovic in the post-match conference. “I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in great form. But, you know, just he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing, the level. I mean, he’s phenomenal.”

The Serbian was trying to come back in the third set, converting his first breakpoint after losing the previous four in the sixth game. But a deadly double-fault in the 11th gave Nadal a chance to serve for the title.

The record Roland Garros winner grabbed it, firing an ace to end the two-hour-and-41-minute final with a love game. He then kneeled, smiled widely, and pumped his arms. It was the fourth time he has won his favorite tournament without conceding a set.

“One month and a half ago if you tell me you’re going to have this trophy with you again, I will say, This year will probably be too difficult,” said Nadal who arrived in Paris this year without any tuneup tournament win, the first time in his career.

But he proved again that once he walks onto the clay court, he is the man to beat.

His long-time rival, Roger Federer, was one of the first people to congratulate him and hailed his incredible 13th title at Roland Garros as “one of the greatest achievements in sport”.

Now the duo shares the record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I would love to finish my career being the player with more Grand Slams. But on the other hand, I have to do my way,” Nadal said. “In terms of these records, of course, that I care. I am a big fan of the history of sport in general. But let’s see what’s going on when we finish our careers. We keep playing.”

Also on Sunday, defending champions Kristina Mladenovic of France and her Hungarian partner Timea Babos claimed the women’s doubles title with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Chile’s Alexa Guarachi and American Desirae Krawczyk.

On Saturday, teenager Iga Swiatek became the first Polish player to win a Grand Slam singles title as she defeated American fourth seed Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 in the women’s singles final at Roland Garros. (Xinhua)

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