Before the tournament, Novak Djokovic had won three consecutive majors, beating Nadal in the finals at each one.
But Nadal has owned the clay at Roland Garros for several years now, and he defeated Djokovic in four sets to clinch his seventh title, the most by a singles player since the tournament became an open.
Nadal was the defending champion at Roland Garros, but heading into the next three Slams, Djokovic will be the most recent winner.
Regardless, Nadal built a remarkable amount of momentum in Paris. The only set he lost throughout the tournament was to Djokovic in the finals.
He also beat Djokovic in two tournament finals leading up to the open. Nadal bested the Serb in straight sets at the Monte Carlo Masters and the Italian Open.
Nadal is undoubtedly at his best on clay, and all three of his recent wins against Djokovic have been on his favorite surface. But he has still been extremely successful at other tournaments and is one of the few tennis players to have a career Grand Slam on his résumé.
Djokovic posted an impressive win against Roger Federer in the semifinals, beating him in straight sets. However, his path to the final match was much bumpier than Nadal’s.
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Djokovic was taken to a decisive fifth set in both the fourth-round match and the quarterfinals.
Losing to Nadal in the finals of the French Open is a result that no one should be ashamed of, but Djokovic’s tournament at Roland Garros was not nearly as impressive as Nadal’s.
It would be difficult to say that Djokovic came away from Paris with momentum.
Now, with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as the Slams left to round out the year, Nadal will make his move towards establishing dominance over Djokovic.
The Spaniard is still young and may still have his best tennis left in him. His performance at Roland Garros was remarkable, and he will be filled with confidence the next time he takes the court on any surface.
This will lead to more wins over Djokovic this year.