Rafael Nadal is now a 20-time grand slam champion after a stunning performance to blow away Novak Djokovic in the French Open final. He was dominant from start to finish in the 6-0 6-2 7-5 victory to secure the title that finally sees him level with Roger Federer in slams won. It also meant that he improved his Roland Garros title haul to 13 – five more than anyone else has won in any other slam.
Nadal had steamrollered his way to the final but there were expectations that Djokovic would keep this one competitive, especially as he had won their last encounter here 5 years ago. Djokovic looked like one of his main goals was to utilise the drop shot to good effect in this one but it would not begin well as it eventually led to his downfall in the opening service game. It may well have been one of the most competitive opening 6-0 sets of any match but Nadal was the one winning all the key points, including saving break points at *3-0. Djokovic would also give up a 40-0 lead in game five, allowing Nadal to serve out the set in ease.
55 minutes in and after saving more break points, Djokovic finally got on the board in the match. It was a revival that didn’t last very long as Nadal’s intensity went unmatched while Djokovic just couldn’t get his feet going. Before he knew it, he was down 0-6 1-5 and facing one of the most humiliating losses in a men’s slam final. The pair traded holds to end the set, finished off by another poor error from Djokovic. Through two sets and fourteen games, Nadal had hit 21 winners to just 6 unforced errors – extraordinary figures at any time but against your biggest rival in a slam final it was even more astonishing.
Djokovic won his first two service games to ensure he would at least match the four games won by Roger Federer in the 2008 final. His first attempt at surpassing that resulted in a shocking service game with more errors handing the break to Nadal. It was at this moment that Nadal’s first signs of vulnerability showed as Djokovic broke straight back, finishing off the game with a backhand down the line winner. The Serbian showed some improvements as the pair traded holds to 5-5 before another nightmare game. Two bad errors saw him go break point down at 30-40 and a double fault gave Nadal the opportunity to serve for the match. In a fitting end to the match, he served it out to love with an ace on match point.
Nadal has had some stunning victories in grand slam finals but this has to be one of his best performances so far. Djokovic had no answer for the Nadal backhand and his reliance on the dropshot was punished regularly by the now 13-time champion.
“I played at an amazing level of tennis,” said Nadal, after he clinched the 60th clay-court title and the 86th trophy of his career. “For two-sets-and-a-half sets I played great. I can’t say another thing. It’s impossible to have this score against him without playing great. I played a very good final. I played at my highest level when I needed to play at my highest level, so [it’s] something that I am very proud of. Winning here means everything to me. It’s not the moment to think about the 20th [Grand Slam] title to equal Roger. For me, today it’s about the victory. It means everything to me. Most of the most important moments of my career have been here. I love this city and this court.”