Sunday, October 11, 2020

Nadal dominates Djokovic for 13th French Open crown

Rafael Nadal equaled Roger Federer's men's record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
2017 photo by Mal Taam
   It was hardly surprising that Rafael Nadal tied Roger Federer's men's record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles today.
   The way he did it was another matter, especially in the first two sets.
   Nadal, ranked second, dismantled Novak Djokovic, ranked first, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in 2 hours, 41 minutes to win his fourth consecutive French Open title and mind-boggling13th overall. 
   Djokovic, who ranks third with 17 Grand Slam singles crowns, double-faulted to give Nadal a 6-5 lead in the third set. Nadal then held serve at love, finishing with an ace.
   "In terms of these records, of course I care," Nadal told reporters. "I am a big fan of the history of sport in general. I respect that a lot. For me, it means a lot to share this number with Roger, no? But let's see what's going on when we finish our careers. We keep playing."
Rafael Nadal improved to 100-2 in the French Open. 2017 photo
by Mal Taam
   It was Nadal's most lopsided Grand Slam victory in the storied rivalry, eclipsing his 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 triumph in the semifinals of the 2007 French Open. It was also the biggest rout in a Roland Garros final since Nadal overwhelmed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 only three years ago.
   Today's outcome, however, was not entirely shocking. Nadal crushed Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in the 2008 French Open final and blanked Djokovic in the first set for the second straight match on clay. Nadal downed Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 in last year's Italian Open final. 
   Nadal became the first player in the Open Era, which began in 1968, to win one of the Grand Slam tournaments four times without losing a set. He also did so at Roland Garros in 2008, 2010 and 2017.
   Djokovic breezed in his first four matches of the tournament before defeating 17th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets in a 3-hour, 10-minute quarterfinal and fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets in a 3-hour, 54-minute semifinal. In the latter encounter, Djokovic held a match point serving at 6-3, 6-2, 5-4.
   Djokovic, 33, leads the 34-year-old Nadal 29-27 in the head-to-head series. Nadal, though, improved to 7-1 in the French Open and 3-0 in Roland Garros finals against Djokovic.
   Overall, Nadal is 100-2 in the French Open, falling to Djokovic in the 2015 quarterfinals and Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009.
   Nadal salvaged his year with a vintage performance. He lost to Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open quarterfinals, skipped the U.S. Open because of coronavirus concerns and, in his only French Open tuneup tournament, lost to Diego Schwartzman for the first time in 10 meetings in the quarters.
   "I played at an amazing level of tennis, no?" Nadal said of today's final. "For two sets and a half, I played great. I can't say another thing. Is impossible to have this score against him without playing great."
Novak Djokovic fell to 37-2 this year, including his
default from the U.S. Open, and 1-4 in French Open
finals. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Djokovic fell to 37-2 this year, including his default from the U.S. Open, and 1-4 in French Open finals. He committed 52 unforced errors to only 14 for Nadal. Djokovic often resorted to drop shots, to no avail against the fleet Spaniard.
   "I was probably rushing a bit much, trying to play shorter points," lamented Djokovic, who seemed fine physically. "I probably wasn't constructing the points well. That reflected on the result. But that was also caused by him, by his amazing defense. He was getting a lot of balls back."
   Djokovic was bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win every Grand Slam title at least twice. Federer has won one French Open crown, and Nadal has captured one Australian Open title.
   Federer, 39, missed the U.S. Open and French Open after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee twice this year. He plans to return in 2021.
   Women's doubles final — Second-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France won the title for the second consecutive year, beating 14th-seeded Alexa Guarachi, a native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., who plays for Chile, and Desirae Krawczyk, who was born in Palm Desert, Calif., 6-4, 7-5.
   Krawczyk won the doubles title in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger with Giuliana Olmos, who was born in Austria, grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays for Mexico. 

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