Rafael Nadal powers his way to a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title as he beats Novak Djokovic in straight sets in French Open final
- Rafael Nadal has equalled Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam wins after winning the French Open title
- The Spaniard has never lost a final at Roland Garros and made lightwork of World No 1 Novak Djokovic
- Nadal swept the Serb aside 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to make it 13 wins from 13 in the final at the French Open
- The pair battled it out in front of a smattering of fans on the Philippe Chatrier court in Paris on Sunday
Rafael Nadal drew level with Roger Federer on twenty Grand Slam titles after an extraordinary demolition of Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.
You can move the tournament to October from late Spring, but there is no changing the inevitability of the result.
He won his 13th Paris championship in his 100th match there, dismissing the world number one 6-0 7-2 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes of often breathtaking shotmaking.
Rafael Nadal has equalled Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam wins with a dominating victory over Novak Djokovic
The Spanish star powered his way to his 13th French Open title in emphatic fashion, sweeping aside the Serb in straight sets
Djokovic’s attempts to play chess with his dropshots backfired and his surfeit of unforced errors when faced with a trademark onslaught sealed his undoing. It was nothing like the equal battle expected.
Early afternoon rain meant that the roof was closed for the first ever indoor Roland Garros final. It was widely believed that the bounce-deadening effect of this would aid the world number one but how wrong we were.
The first set will go down as the best, and one of the longest, in history that has ended in a 6-0 scoreline.
Nadal was relentless in keeping the ball in play, chasing down everything Djokovic had to offer to storm to a two-set lead
The World No 1’s attempts to play chess with Nadal backfired as his drop shots were easily read by the inspired Spaniard
It took 45 minutes and began with Djokovic attempting four dropshots in the first game, only two of which were successful. The first four games lasted 32 minutes and was full of breathtaking rallies, the crucial difference between them being that Nadal was winning all the big points.
The Serb did not help himself by struggling with his first serve but it was still anything but the wipeout that the scoreboard suggested.
Djokovic looked shellshocked by the end but regrouped to get off the mark after 55 minutes, only to go another break down. Notably the Spaniard was winning all the shorter rallies and recovering from most of his opponent’s attempts to drag him to the net, where he plays brilliantly anyway.
Djokovic attempted to muster a fightback in the third set as he clawed back to 5-5 as the crowd looked to rouse the World No 1
But Nadal was in no mood to let his lead slip as the Spaniard powered home, winning 7-5 in the third to seal an historic victory
He went ahead for 4-1, still making mincemeat of the dropshots from his opponent. The ball would only marginally sit up and be met with an extraordinary flick after Nadal sprinted in – a remarkable feat of hand-eye coordination.
Djokovic was being forced to overpress in search of winners. While he was winning some points that way the unforced errors were also racking up. By the time he went two sets behind this was starting to look like the 2008 final when Nadal allowed Federer only four games in total.
When he lamely surrendered a break at 2-2 in the third the end looked nigh, only for Nadal’s level to drop in the next game and allow him to level straightaway.
The Serb definitely sensed he was back in it, but then at 5-5 and 30-30 he hit a forehand marginally long and then double faulted down the ‘T’. With no Hawkeye to appeal to on the clay the mark, inspected by umpire Damien Dumusois, showed the ball to be out but he would have liked a referral.
He gave up the last game lamely, ushering Nadal to the title.
Nadal said he has enjoyed his best moments at Roland Garros and sent a message of positivity amid the covid pandemic
The Spaniard does his traditional bite of the trophy after making it an astonishing 13 French Open triumphs on Sunday
‘Congrats to Novak for another great tournament. Sorry for today,’ he said.
‘In Australia, he killed me a couple of times ago. Today it was me. It’s part of the game, we have played plenty of times. One day one person wins, the next day the other. All the best for the future, Novak.
‘It has been a very tough year but to win here means everything to me,’ said Nadal. ‘It’s not the moment for me to think about the 20th equalling Roger, for me today is a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me, I have spent the most important moments of my career here.’
The mammoth final was played out in front of a smattering of fans at the brand new Philippe Chartier court in Paris
‘I want to send a message to everyone around the world: we are facing one of the worst moments we remember in this world, fighting against this virus. Just keep going, stay positive and all the very best. Together we will go through this and be victorious soon.’
‘It was a very tough match for me today,’ a deflated Djokovic said. ‘I’m not so pleased with the way I played today. I was outplayed by a better player on the court. It has been a fantastic couple of weeks.
‘This situation is difficult but we have the possibility to play the sport we love and I’m very grateful to those who allowed us to play.’
Re-live all the action as it happened in Paris right here with Sportsmail’s KIERAN JACKSON and OLLIE LEWIS.
Rafael Nadal wastes no time in sending a serve beyond the outstretched Djokovic to put this demolition to an end and win yet another French Open.
New stadium, new balls, same result. The first two sets were perfection and despite a brief fightback from Djokovic, Nadal wasn’t going to let his lead slip as he seals a historic victory.
13-time champion, and he goes level with Federer on 20 Grand Slams. What a player.
Djokovic sends a forehand intended to go down the line, into the net. Nadal has three championship points.
Djokovic sends a cross-court backhand beyond the bassline, as Nadal lets out a ‘Vamos!’
The Serb cannot find a response to Nadal’s serve as he moves within two points of the title.
That was a critical call from the umpire and now Nadal is serving for the championship.
Roger Federer is surely watching at home, wondering whether his old rival is about to join him on 20 Grand slam wins.
And Nadal breaks! Djokovic thought he was accurate with his second serve but the umpire intervenes to deem that the service had strayed just wide of the tee line. The Serb approaches to inspect before meekly conceding that the ball had gone wide.
Nadal is one game away from winning his 13th French Open.
Uh-oh, trouble for Djokovic again as he sends a forehand too long, giving Nadal another chance to break.
Djokovic lets out a wry smile as he puts away a deep overhead volley, with Nadal relentlessly returning everything that comes his way.
Nadal holds to level the scores once again and put the pressure back on Djokovic.
Djokovic didn’t get hold of that backhand at all there, with the ball hitting the clay before it even reached the net.
Two game points.
Nadal looks completely in the zone, though, and responds by forcing Novak into two errors, the latest a backhand that drifts just out of play.
Djokovic knows it’s a case of now or never, and looks to put pressure on the Nadal serve – something he has failed to do all afternoon.
Nadal is forced into an error as he sends a backhand down the line, but it lands just wide.
Djokovic saves the break point with a fast second serve and now has the chance to hold serve.
He sends a fizzing first serve down the tee and Nadal can do little to keep the Serb at bay as Djokovic smashes home Nadal’s meagre response to just about hold on.
Trouble for Novak. Nadal retrieves a lobbed shot, moves Djokovic into an unfavourable position and hits the backhand winner to have a chance to break.
Novak is pumped up. He slams a backhand across court to go 40-30 and beckons the ball boy to deliver the balls quicker. He wants to get on with this.
But he is wasteful again, driving a backhand into the net to let the opportunity go to waste.
Djokovic just cannot resist the temptation to play the drop shot. He has Nadal forced back but decides to go short and Nadal has no trouble to sweep that one up.
Critical moment now, with Nadal two points away from breaking.
Djokovic saves one game point but is unable to save the second as Nadal holds serve.
There’s no doubt Djokovic is feeling the ball better out there, but is it a case of too little too late? A big service game coming up for the Serb.
Nadal loops a forehand deep into the backcourt and Djokovic can’t control it, burying a forehand into the net.
Djokovic is going to need a chance of tact from the drop shot – it’s proven pretty unsuccessful today, with only 50% paying off. He’s just sent another into the net too.
Novak elects to go toe to toe from the baseline and forces Nadal into sending a backhand into the net.
Djokovic holds to lead the third set 4-3. Nadal is going to have to work hard to get over the finish line and clinch another French Open title.
The Serb has his tail up right now.
Djokovic is looking to ride this wave of momentum and is looking far more confident than he has for the bulk of the afternoon.
Is there a route back into this for him?
Djokovic gets another chance to break Nadal after the Spaniard drives a forehand too long.
The smattering of fans at Roland Garros are willing Novak on to grab a game from the world No 1.
And he does it! Djokovic drives a backhand down the line and Nadal has no response. The Serb lets out a roar and he’s back on serve!
That is simply sensational from Rafa! Djokovic attempts the drop shot but Nadal reads it and pounces from the baseline and clips the ball back across the Serb to level things up at Deuce.
Djokovic has a chance to break Nadal. Can he make it count?
Nadal drives two backhands into the net to open the door for Djokovic.
Djokovic advances forward towards a short ball but whips a cross-court backhand long.
He needs to be perfect from now to muster an increasingly unlikely comeback
This could well be curtains for Novak. Nadal breaks the Serb with ease to take a big step towards French Open No 13.
Djokovic looks a beaten man.
Nadal is so destructive. The Spaniard wastes no time in looking to tighten his grip even further on this one. He’s pummeled the Serb and now has three break points.
Djokovic is ever so wasteful as he looks to pounce on a second serve – driving the ball beyond the service line.
Nadal punishes his rival to level the scores in this third set.
Thanks Kieran. Can’t see this one lasting much longer – Nadal has looked unstoppable thus far but can Djokovic mount a fightback?
The Serb drags a backhand just wide as Nadal looks to hold serve here.
First time Djokovic has held serve twice in a row – he comes through a tricky game. He’s fighting. You know he’ll keep fighting. Rafa goes wide on his backhand.
I’m handing over to Ollie Lewis now who will see this match through to its conclusion! How long will it last though?
Rafa goes astray on break point and you suspect this is last chance saloon for Djokovic if he wants to save this match – don’t think he can afford to go behind again.
Rafa holds – Djokovic going a tad long with his return.
Spotlight back on Serb’s serve.
Fair play to Novak – he’s giving it a fair good-go here. Huge power on his backhand crosscourt to Nadal. But the Spaniard has another game point…
A hold to 15 for Novak – was that a slight drop in quality by Nadal? WAS IT?!
Long toilet break taken by Nadal… any way Djokovic can reignite some momentum?
Djokovic misses a backhand return down the line at 40-30 and Rafa has a two-set lead.
Any way back for the Serb here? Right now, a comeback could not look further away..
Three set points for Nadal, who is still refusing to miss. At least make it interesting for us…
Djokovic holds to 15 and in that game he looked up to the heavens when Nadal missed a return – something he has barely down this afternoon.
Two games for Novak, but Rafa will now serve for it.
I mean THAT is just a joke.
Love hold for Rafa – he hit a 99mph forehand pass down the line, followed by another wicked famous forehand.
There is NOTHING you can do about that. Djokovic serving to stay in the set.
Djokovic’s forehand clips the net and flies wide and it’s a DOUBLE BREAK for Nadal.
Is it curtains already for the World No 1? Still only the single game to his name.
Terrific point! Nip and tuck from both players with attack ans defence – but it’s Djokovic who loses out again.
Double fault followed by an ace! Deuce.
Djokovic cannot afford to drop serve here.
Nadal, so deep in the back of the court, is caught out at 15-30 by a Djokovic drop-shot – this time on the forehand side.
Djokovic nets a simple forehand to gift the game to Rafa – not promising signs.
Two-game lead for Rafa
Nadal looks to be cruising at 40-15, but Djokovic not quite done in this game yet = goes aggressive from the off and manages to stay in the game.
Djokovic simply could not get to game point – and after netting a forehand, Nadal makes the first breakthrough in the second set.
The World No 1 is startled right now.
Djokovic nets a backhand for another break point – but he converts this time…
Deuce again – can the Serb escape?
Djokovic saves it with some brave shot-making, hitting the line twice with some bold shots from the back of the court.
Few big serves, and another drop shot gets Djokovic to 30-30…. but an error, and Nadal has another BREAK POINT.
Trouble. Real trouble for Djokovic.
Nadal in full flow, wrongfoots the Serb at the back of the court. 0-30.
Nadal holds – rock solid behind his serve and was never going to miss once the rally got going.
Pressure back on Novak.
Two pulsating winners down the line – one forehand, one backhand – gives Djokovic 15-30, but he mistimes a return into the net.
Still a chance here though.
And he’s on the board! Big hold for Djokovic there, who to his credit kept pounding away.
55 minutes in, and the World No 1 has his first game.
This time, Djokovic has a chance to close out the game but again, a sloppy error when it matters, collapsing into a backhand into the net.
BIG inside-out forehand winner from Djokovic to save another break point. Serb just trying to hang in there…
The gap down the line is there on the forehand wing for Djokovic, but he hits it wide.
Another break point..
Resistance from Djokovic – found two first serves and took the initiative completely, hitting a winner and forcing an error.
Deuce. This is big for Novak.
Different set, no change of momentum here though – Nadal simply unflappable at the moment – nothing getting past him.
TWO BREAK POINTS at the start of the second set!
No mucking about here – ace out wide, and Nadal storms through a first set which was actually very competitive.
A lot of thinking for Djokovic to do mind…
3/4 an hour gone, bagel incoming.
Two set points for Nadal.
Stupidly good backhand cross-court winner from the Spaniard, and despite 41 minutes of high-quality action, Djokovic is yet to win a game!
Demoralising? Yeah, just a little bit.
Djokovic finding it hard to cope with Nadal right now – different planet in this mood on the clay.
Another break point..
That doesn’t stop him from using it again!
Another drop shot, and this time, Djokovic squeezes the point out.
Another drop shot goes wayward from the Serb – barely reaching the net.
Djokovic saves a break point with a big forehand crosscourt, but Djokovic is having to work so, so hard just to win one point here!
From 40-0 to 40-40 for Djokovic – three uncharacteristic errors.
He’s not happy out here right now.
Nadal ace down the T – that’s tough on Djokovic, Rafa holds.
Standard of play, unsurprisingly, already unbelievably high… and Djokovic is not yet on the board!
Another break point saved by Nadal – Djokovic just unable to get in the point!
Mesmerising game of cat-and-mouse at the net between the pair – and in the end it’s Nadal who cracks with what is – for him – a relatively easy forehand put-away.
But again, Djokovic cannot convert – goes long on the backhand side this time.
30 minutes played by the way – we haven’t finished game number four!
Phenomenal returning from the Serb, as he forces a Nadal volley into the net with a stretched backhand pass.
Back comes Rafa – wicked forehand winner down the line, inside-in!
Djokovic lets rip on his backhand side – flat and deep down the line, no answer from Rafa.
Stunning point at 30-15 – incredible court coverage by Djokovic to chase down a drop shot and finish a volley.
Djokovic saves one break point after a lengthy rally but can’t save the second, netting a backhand.
Ominous signs early doors for the world number one – double break lead for Nadal in the first set.
Warning signs for Djokovic here already.
Nadal has come out all guns blazing on both wings – extreme power. Djokovic double faults at 15-30 – TWO BREAK POINTS FOR A DOUBLE BREAK!
Not this time. Djokovic nets a drop shot and then goes long on the backhand wing.
Early two-game lead for the 12-time champion.
Unreal two points from Djokovic!
First, a backhand crosscourt winner of the highest order, followed by a brilliant reach on a Nadal first serve, before a defensive lob is volleyed waywardly long by Rafa.
Deuce again – can Novak do what Rafa did to him?
As expected with these two titans, the rallies are lengthy – but it’s the Spaniard who’s coming out on top so far.
Djokovic smashes a forehand down the line just long at 15-15 and an early error at 40-15. Two games points for 2-0.
And again, with a deep defensive lob, Rafa stays in the rally before a stray backhand down the line from Djokovic hands an early break to the King of Clay!
From 40-15 down too…
Nadal turns defence into attack quite brilliantly after another Djokovic drop shot, and manages to force the effort from the Serb.
Break opportunity early on..
Brutal from Nadal, who’s on the charge early on.
Takes control of the rally and hits a clean forehand winner – we’re at deuce.
Djokovic using two drop shots from 15-15 to unsettle Nadal at the net… he tries another one at 40-15, but it does not quite trickle over the tape.
One game point left…
With around 1,000 spectators inside the stadium, with the roof closed due to rain in Paris, the finalists are out!
Final Sunday. Roland Garros. Djokovic vs Nadal. Does it get much better than that?
Welcome to Sportsmail’s live coverage of the men’s singles final the French Open, between the top two players in the world!
Strap yourselves in…
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