Nadal dominates Djokovic to win French Open, tie Grand Slam titles record
Ties Roger Federer for the men's record with 20 Grand Slam victories
For years, Rafael Nadal pursued, and achieved, greatness at the French Open and other major tournaments. He never made a big deal out of his trophy total or the way he kept gaining on rival Roger Federer in the Grand Slam standings.
Now, thanks to a flawless performance against Novak Djokovic in the final at Roland Garros on Sunday, Nadal is finally there — tied with Federer at 20 major singles championships, more than any other man in tennis history.
Adding to his own French Open record trophy with No. 13 on its red clay, Nadal delivered a remarkably dominant 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over the No. 1-ranked Djokovic.
"He keeps going. No holding him back, it seems like. It's amazing. I mean, I admire all his achievements," said Djokovic, who had won his last five Grand Slam finals. "There's not much you can say. All the superlatives you can use, he deserves them."
WATCH | Nadal wins 13th French Open title:
When Nadal ended it with an ace, he dropped to his knees, smiled widely and pumped his arms. It's the fourth time he's won his favourite tournament without ceding a set.
"The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable," Nadal said.
He deflected a question during the on-court, post-match interview about catching Federer, who is 39 and sat out the U.S. Open and French Open after having two operations on his right knee.
"[To] win here means everything to me, no? It's not the moment, honestly ... [to] think today about the 20th," Nadal said. "Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that."
About an hour after the match ended, Federer posted a congratulatory message on Instagram.
"I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players," Federer began, ending with: "I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it."
Nadal, No. 2 in the rankings, improved to 100-2 at the French Open, including a combined 26-0 in semifinals and finals, and picked up his fourth consecutive title in Paris. The 34-year-old left-hander from Spain previously put together streaks of four French Open championships from 2005-08, then five in a row from 2010-14, to go alongside his four trophies at the U.S. Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.
'Great era of tennis'
Nadal is now even with Federer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003. Federer's first arrived at Wimbledon that year; Nadal, naturally, earned his first in France in 2005, by which point he trailed 4-0.
Djokovic's loss left him at 17 majors; had he won, the trio's standings would have read 20-19-18.
"It's honestly a pleasure — in some ways, it's a pleasure — sharing this great era of tennis together," Nadal said. "On the other hand, [there] have been tough battles for a long time."
This was the 56th installment of Nadal vs. Djokovic, the most meetings between any pair of men in the professional era, and their ninth in a Grand Slam final, equaling Nadal vs. Federer for the most.
Djokovic had won 14 of the last 18 matchups against Nadal, and led 29-26 overall, including a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win at the 2019 Australian Open final.
Nadal allowed Djokovic one fewer game this time.
"In Australia, he killed me. ... Today was for me," Nadal said. "That's part of the game."