Rafael Nadal Defeats Novak Djokovic to Win French Open for 13th Time

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2020

Serbia's Novak Djokovic, left, and Spain's Rafael Nadal look at each other as they pose for images prior to the final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

Rafael Nadal once again proved his dominance on clay, defeating Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open final to earn his 13th career title at Roland Garros.ย 

The Spanish star stunned the No. 1 player in the world with a bagel in the first set and kept the momentum with a three-set victory Sunday on Court Philippe-Chatrier. He now has an incredible 100-2 career record at this event and hasn't lost in the last four years.

The win also marked the 20th career Grand Slam victory for Nadal, matching Roger Federer for the men's all-time record. Djokovic currently has 17 career major titles, but only one at the French Open. He was seeking to become the first player in open history to win each Grand Slam multiple times.

The two men began Sunday's match with some incredible back-and-forth play, showcasing the type of ability we have come to expect from the veterans:

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Despite the excellent rallies and amazing touch from both competitors, it was Nadal who continued to come away with the points. It led to a couple of early breaks and then eventually a shutout in the opening set.

Djokovic won only three first-serve points in the entire set, giving Nadal an enormous advantage in the match right out of the gate.

The second set was more of the same, with the No. 2 seed again winning the key points when it mattered. Eight of the first 10 games went to deuce but Nadal came away with seven wins in those games.

It helped that he produced some of the best shots you will see:

Nadal also avoided mistakes with just six unforced errors in the first two sets compared to 30 for Djokovic.ย 

Things were much more competitive in the third set with Djokovic finally earning his first break, getting the limited crowd behind him after pulling even 3-3 in the set.

It was still never easy to get points against Nadal, who was all over the place:

After a narrow break to go up 6-5 in the final set, the 34-year-old closed it out with his serve.

While Nadal was clearly better overall, the match came down to him winning the key points when it mattered. Heย saved four of his fiveย break points on the day while converting seven of his 18 break opportunitiesย the other way.

It turned a battle of good rallies into a rout on the score card.

Djokovic still leads Nadal in this rivalry with a 29-27 career record, although Nadal now has a 5-4 advantage in Grand Slam finals.

As two of the greatest of all time, we will undoubtedly see these two match up again but every event is important to define their legacies. Nadal got the upper hand this time around, showing his clay-court prowess should remain unquestioned.