Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning championship point during his Men's Singles Final against Novak Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning championship point during his Men's Singles Final against Novak Djokovic.

‘Almost unbelievable’ French destruction

Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal has equalled Roger Federer's all-time grand slam record after dominating the French Open final on Sunday.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic had never lost a set 6-0 in a grand slam final entering today's French Open decider. He'd only ever been force-fed one bagel in 55 previous meetings with Nadal.

But in an "almost unbelievable" start to a Roland Garros finale with so much history on the line, the Djoker was embarrassed.

Nadal was relentless, rarely making any errors in the straight sets 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 win, his 100th Roland Garros victory. He is also now the first male in history to win four majors without dropping a set in the entire tournament.

Watch Roland-Garros 2020 Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial now & start streaming instantly >

"Sorry for today. In Australia he killed me … it was clear today was for me," said Nadal, who gained revenge for Djoker's 6-3 6-2 6-3 win in the 2019 Australian Open final.

In typically classy and humble fashion, Nadal refused to celebrate too much amid the COVID pandemic that's gripped the world - and was reluctant to dwell too long on matching Federer.

"I want to send a message to everyone around the world. We are facing one of the worst moments that I think we remember in this world facing and fighting against this virus," he said.

"Just keep going, stay positive and all the very best. We will go through this and we will win.

"To win here means everything to me … I don't think about the 20th or equal Roger.

"For me today it is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me."

The 34-year-old now boasts 20 grand slam singles titles - the same number as Federer - and a record 13 majors in Paris.

Rafael Nadal celebrates the historic win.
Rafael Nadal celebrates the historic win.

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a point.
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a point.

 

"I want to say huge congratulations to Rafa Nadal. What you're doing not just on this court, but throughout your entire career, is unbelievable," Djokovic said after the match.

"You have been a great champion and now you have shown why you are king of the clay and I have experienced it in my own skin.

"It was a very tough match for me today, obviously. I am not so pleased with the way I played, but I was definitely overplayed by a better player today.

"Obviously, the situation is very difficult for everyone worldwide, but we have a possibility to play the sport that we love and I am very grateful to everyone who made sure that this tournament is organised to allow us to actually be on the courts. Thank you so much for that."

American tennis legend John McEnroe said: "He just wasn't able to play well - and (Nadal) maybe played as well as he ever has."

HOW NADAL MADE HISTORY

The French Open final could not have started better for Nadal, who immediately broke serve to take an early 1-0 lead.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd initially favoured the Spanish superstar, wildly cheering whenever he mustered a winner.

Djokovic was regularly implementing drop shots early in the first set, which quickly proved an ineffective strategy.

Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg tweeted: "Djokovic over-relying on that drop shot, and it's not working out for him."

Nadal's first service game went to deuce, but the World No. 2 managed to hold his nerve and go ahead 2-0.

The Serbian quickly found himself on the back foot after Nadal broke service once again, speeding ahead in the first set.

Trailing by a double break after 20 minutes, Djokovic was yet to win a point on his first serve.

Sports presenter Candice Hare tweeted: "Aggressive start from Nadal being rewarded in spades. Djokovic's first serve being non-existent helps too."

Athletic journalist Griffen Adams posted: "Nadal has clay running through his veins."

 

Djokovic started to rediscover his mojo in the fourth game, but botched three break points to go behind 4-0.

The quality of tennis drastically improved after 30 minutes, with several lengthy rallies giving the spectators plenty to cheer about.

Although Djokovic managed to save two break points in his third service game, Nadal once again broke serve as the one-way traffic continued.

Inevitably, Nadal held serve to claim the first set with ease, leaving Djokovic with a bagel.

As revealed by Rothenberg, this was only the second bagel in the 56 matches between the pair, with the previous one also won by Nadal on clay in Rome last year.

It was also the first time Djokovic had lost a set 6-0 in a grand slam final.

 

 

It required almost an hour, but Djokovic finally got himself on the board, albeit after trailing 15-40 in his opening service game of the second set.

The Serbian unearthed some much-needed power with his forehands, helping him win a game after 55 minutes of action.

Nadal ensured the set remained on serve, with a few unforced errors creeping into Djokovic's game.

And after saving two break points, Djokovic's body language completely changed when Nadal broke serve for a fourth time. The dejected World No. 1 knew his Spanish rival was steaming towards a comfortable victory.

 

With nine games completed, Djokovic was comfortably leading the unforced errors tally 21 to three.

Although Nadal's second service game of the set went to deuce, he secured a 3-1 lead with Djokovic's serve to come.

After saving a break point with his first ace of the match, Djokovic's reliance on the drop shot once again cost him, and Nadal took advantage to force a double break set.

Sportswriter Mike Dickson tweeted: "Running in at pace and then feathering those crosscourt flicks in response to the drop shot - astonishing hand-eye coordination from Nadal."

Nadal won his next service game to love, and was suddenly one game away from a two-set lead.

More than 90 minutes into the one-sided contest, Djokovic mustered his second game to keep the set alive.

Despite the brief reprieve from the onslaught, Nadal won a seventh consecutive service game to put himself one set away from a 13th Roland Garros title.

The Athletic reporter Jill Thaw tweeted: "There is something really satisfying about this Rafa beatdown of Djokovic and you know it."

Tennis journalist George Bellshaw posted: "Djokovic a bit flat now, needs to shake himself into action else this is only going one way. Even if he does massively improve, it's probably still only going one way … Nadal has been near-faultless."

 

The French crowd noticeably changed their tune in the third set and started cheering heavily for the depleted Djokovic.

The additional support seemingly worked wonders, with Djokovic winning the opening game of the must-win set.

Nadal responded by holding serve, and although the Spaniard was gifted a break point in the following game, Djokovic managed to follow suit.

The World No. 2 then broke serve to take a 3-2 lead with his serve to come, and the final result seemed inevitable.

Sports journalist Sam Street tweeted: "This might be impossible even for Novak Djokovic."

News broadcaster Redi Tlhabi posted: "I think even Rafa is bored with this final. Djoko has absolutely no response! I expected Nadal to win but not without a fight! What a breeze this has been for him."

Djokovic finally won a break point to put the third set back on serve, and the Serbian responded by geeing up the vocal spectators, exuberantly flinging his arms in the air.

The following four games remained on serve, with the third set slowly crawling towards a climactic conclusion.

A sloppy double fault granted Nadal a critical break, and suddenly the Spaniard found himself one service game away from a 20th grand slam title.

Nadal secured the championship with a powerful ace - his fourth of the final - making history in the process.

 

Originally published as 'Almost unbelievable' French destruction



Help give Tammara a 'farewell she deserves'

Premium Content Help give Tammara a 'farewell she deserves'

A Gofundme page has been set up to help the Casino woman's family

COVID FREE? How many days since the region’s last case?

Premium Content COVID FREE? How many days since the region’s last case?

Despite a run of no COVID cases, the testing regime remains in place

Woman arrested after several cars rammed at holiday park

Premium Content Woman arrested after several cars rammed at holiday park

Police are investigating another similar incident nearby