'My God': Tennis world in shock over 'humiliating' French Open final

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·6-min read
Rafael Nadal, pictured here after beating Novak Djokovic to win his 20th grand slam title.
Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic to win his 20th grand slam title. Image: Getty

Rafael Nadal has annihilated Novak Djokovic to win the French Open, equalling Roger Federer’s record with his 20th grand slam title.

While Nadal went into Sunday’s final as a warm favourite, nobody was expecting him to completely wipe the World No.1 off the court.

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Nadal inflicted one of the most humiliating defeats on his great rival, thrashing Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5.

Tennis fans would have been salivating at the prospect of another epic clash in one of the sport’s greatest rivalries, but it proved to be one of the most one-sided grand slam finals in the Open era under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.

The roof, which made its debut at this year’s rescheduled grand slam, was closed just before the start of play, sending fans and pundits on social media into a frenzy on which player would benefit from the indoor conditions.

Most thought it would favour the Serbian's game against the 34-year-old Nadal, who was bidding for a 13th title on the red clay courts at Roland Garros.

Instead, Nadal adapted brilliantly as he has done all fortnight to the new brand of balls and the much colder and wet conditions at this year's event which started in late September rather than its usual May-June slot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stakes were high for both players in their ninth meeting in a grand slam final - they were tied 4-4 previously - with the added incentive of lifting another major trophy in the battle to be considered the men's GOAT - the “Greatest Of All Time”.

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Nadal has now tied Federer's haul of 20 majors with Djokovic, the last active player to beat the Spaniard at Roland Garros, three adrift.

“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 No.2 said.

“This love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable.”

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 clay courts 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 game plan.

Nadal made just two unforced errors in the opening set to hand his opponent a rare 'bagel'.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, pictured here after the French Open final.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal pose with their trophies after the French Open final. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

It was the first time in Djokovic’s career that he had suffered the embarrassing fate in a grand slam final.

In the second set there was no letup in intensity either as he 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.

Djokovic, who was looking to win his 18th Grand Slam title, made a fight of it 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.

“Today you showed why you are the king of clay,” said a gracious Djokovic.

“What you’re doing not just on this court, but throughout your entire career, is unbelievable.

“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.”

Rafael Nadal, pictured here celebrating after winning the French Open final.
Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning the French Open final. (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

Tennis world in shock over Nadal thrashing

Tennis fans and commentators were in disbelief over the thrashing.

American legend John McEnroe said of Djokovic: “He just wasn’t able to play well — and (Nadal) maybe played as well as he ever has.”

The Athletic journalist Griffen Adams wrote on Twitter: “Nadal has clay running through his veins.”

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

While Simon Hughes said the first-se bagel was “almost unbelievable.”

with AAP

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