Spain’s Rafael Nadal demolished world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open final to claim a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday.
With his record-improving 13th triumph at Roland Garros, world number two Nadal is now tied with Swiss Roger Federer as the player with the most men’s singles major titles.
Nadal was the early aggressor as he choked Djokovic to win the opening set in brutal fashion having made only two unforced errors. He then kept a firm grip on a subdued Djokovic in the second set under the roof of court Philippe Chatrier.
Djokovic, who was looking to win his 18th Grand Slam title, rebelled in the third set, breaking back for 3-3, only to drop serve on a double fault in the 11th game before Nadal went on to bag his 100th victory at Roland Garros with an ace.
“First of all of course congrats to Novak for another great tournament, sorry for today,” Nadal, who has now beaten Djokovic in all of their three French Open finals, said on court.
“In Australia (in the final in 2019) he killed me. We’ve played so many times, one day one wins, another day the other wins.”
Djokovic had won five Grand Slam finals in a row since being beaten by Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2016 Australian Open, but Nadal was not upset on his turf despite a new stadium design, the roof and the lack of spectators amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The 34-year-old Nadal would not think of matching Federer’s mark.
“To win here means everything. I don’t think today about the 20th and equal Roger on this great number, today is just a Roland Garros victory and that means everything to me,” the world number two said.
“This love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable.”
Before the match Djokovic had said Roland Garros was Nadal’s home and the Spaniard did not once leave the door ajar for the Serbian to make a comeback into the match.
Djokovic, 33, who had won five Grand Slam finals in a row since losing to Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 Australian Open, still leads Nadal 29-27 in career meetings but the scar of Sunday’s defeat will run deep.
The drop shots on the slow claycourts served Djokovic well in earlier rounds and he used plenty of them in his opening game on Sunday but Nadal ran most of them down, blunting the Serbian’s weapon and gameplan.
Djokovic struggled with his first serve and was unable to come up with a Plan B as Nadal continued to be the aggressor while making just two unforced errors in the opening set to hand his opponent a rare bagel in the opening set.
Nadal showed exemplary athleticism and court coverage to get his racket to Djokovic’s crunching groundstrokes as the bewildered Serbian watched on, fast running out of ideas on how to win important points.
In the second set there was no letup in intensity from Nadal, who continued to hit deep returns to keep his opponent pinned to the back of the baseline.
Djokovic got on the board at the start of the second set after managing to save three breakpoints but Nadal maintained his iron grip by breaking the Serbian’s next two service games to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
In a high-quality third set, Djokovic broke Nadal’s serve for the first time for 3-3 but dropped serve on a double fault in the 11th game before the left-hander went on to bag his 100th victory at Roland Garros with an ace.
“Today you showed why you are the king of clay. Today was a tough match, I was outplayed by a better player today,” said Djokovic after losing his third final to Nadal at Roland Garros.