Rafael Nadal can look Roger Federer straight in the eye. The world No. 2 equaled the Basel record by clinching his 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday at Roland Garros, where he triumphed for the 13th time.
The Mallorcan left-hander won 6-0 6-2 7-5 in 2h41 ‘in the final ahead of world no.1 Novak Djokovic, who therefore remains with 17 major trophies. He also reached the 100 matches won mark on Parisian clay on Sunday, where he triumphed from 2005 to 2008, from 2010 to 2014 and from 2017 to 2020.
Imperial during a fortnight when it was thought that his lift would do less damage due to the cold and humidity, Rafael Nadal triumphed for the fourth time without losing a single set at Roland Garros. With 100 victories, he obtained more than 10% of his … 999 successes on the circuit!
The Mallorcan has also refused to mention the fact that he had equaled Roger Federer in the number of major titles. ‘Winning here means everything to me. I have lived the most important moments of my career here. Today, I only want to think about Roland-Garros, and not these 20 Grand Slam titles, ‘he said on the court.
At 10 lengths at the start of 2010
Beaten twice by Porte d’Auteuil (8th in the 2009 final against Robin Söderling, 2015 quarter-final against Novak Djokovic) where he also declared a forfeit before his 3rd round in 2016, Rafael Nadal nevertheless ended up catching up with Roger Federer . He has won four major titles since the 20th celebrated by the Basel in 2018 in Melbourne.
The Mallorcan left-hander, who had unlocked his counter in Paris in 2005, nearly two years after his eternal rival (Wimbledon 2003), has been irremediably closer for ten years now. Roger Federer was indeed 10 lengths ahead (16-6) when he won the Australian Open in 2010.
But Rafael Nadal was only 23 at the time. He had not yet given his full potential in New York – his four titles were conquered there between 2010 and 2019 – and had won ‘only’ four times in Paris where Roger Federer was holding the trophy. Novak Djokovic was only 22 years old, and was not yet tormenting the Balois …
Rafael Nadal is now the equal of the greatest player of all time. Capable of winning at Roland Garros as long as he takes part, he could well continue his harvest there next spring. Roger Federer will have every interest in being in top form in January at Mebourne as his shooting window gets narrower and narrower.
The Balois (38) had equaled the old record of Pete Sampras (14) by winning his only success at Roland Garros. He became the sole holder less than a month later, on July 5, 2009, beating Andy Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set in the final at Wimbledon. He must now learn to share. But for how long?
Djokovic as Federer in 2008
Double title holder at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic (33) is also dreaming of this record more than ever. Revenge after his disqualification in the round of 16 of a US Open that was promised to him, the Serbian took a blow to the head on Sunday. Like Roger Federer in 2008, he conceded a 6-0 in the final in Paris against Rafael Nadal.
But if the Balois had suffered this affront in the third set of a one-sided final (6-1 6-3 6-0 in 1h48 ‘), the Serbian took this’ slap’ of entry. In three quarters of an hour of play, of course, but without having much to be ashamed of: Rafael Nadal committed only 2 unforced errors in the first set, for 10 winning moves!
And the Spaniard has long maintained this same insolent rhythm, delivering during the first two sets a real recital without leaving the slightest respite to his opponent. Novak Djokovic resurfaced somewhat in the third set, signing his only break of the afternoon to pick up at 3-3 by showing himself more conqueror.
But Rafael Nadal did not give him time to believe in an improbable return. He was able to tighten his guard, taking advantage of a double fault from the Serbian to sign his seventh break of the match at 5-5. And the Iberian concluded on a shutout, arming an ace on his first match point to join Roger Federer at the Pantheon.
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