“There’s not much you can say — all the superlatives that you can use, he deserves them.” –Novak Djokovic after the final at Roland Garros
Picking up his 13th French Title
By Roger Childs
In the French Open men’s final, Rafael Nadal humiliated world number one Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard won the opening set 6-0 and picked up 12 of the first 14 games in the match. Djokovic played better in the third set and after breaking Nadal’s for the only time, led 5-4. But Nadal then tightened the screws to win the next three games and take his record breaking 13th title 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
He also equaled the great Roger Federer’s record of winning 20 grand slams.
Although Djokovic played many excellent shots and contributed to some superb, he just couldn’t match Nadal mastery of the clay service. The Spaniard is a totally focused and utterly determined player who relentlessly attacks the ball. He is a fantastic retriever and produce many cross-court and down the line winners which zip off the red dust at incredible speed.
Djokovic was often on the back foot and hit far too many unforced errors into the net, in the tram lines or over the back line. He was never able to show the poise and dominance that took him through to the final.
It may be a bold statement but Nadal’s record of 100 games won and 13 titles on the clay of Roland Garros may stand forever.
Greatest of all time?
As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players,” Federer wrote, and ended with: “I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”
Now that he has equaled Federer’s grand slam haul the debate will be on about who is the GOAT. The discussion is probably pointless as Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are all fine players and a cut above the rest. They each have a favourite surface. The Spaniard is unrivalled on clay, whereas RF, who is currently recovering from knee surgery, has the best record on the Wimbledon grass with 8 titles. Djokovic is most at home on hard courts and has won eight times in the Australian Open.
Their rivalries over the years have featured many great matches and close results.
- Djokovic 27 – 23 v Federer
- Djokovic 29 – 27 v Nadal
- Nadal 24 – 16 v Federer
Fortunately for the sport there are many fine younger players coming on – Austrian Dominic Thiem picked up the recent US Open title and Stephanos Tsitiipas won the London Indoor tournament at the end of 2019, where the top eight men battled it out. For the younger brigade the three greats, all in their thirties, are an inspiration.
Present day tennis fans are indeed fortunate to still be able to see the three legends playing, as well as the talented chasing pack.