Rafael Nadal dominated Novak Djokovic to win his thirteenth French Open title, drawing level with Roger Federer in tennis’ GOAT race as a result. Many expected Djokovic to pose a significant challenge to the Spaniard, yet that didn’t materialise on the scoreboard, even though his play was not by any stretch sub-par.
The 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 scoreline would suggest a one-sided affair in favour of the Spaniard, whilst a brief look at the statistics of the match would highlight the huge disparity in unforced errors committed by each player. However, these figures don’t provide the full picture as for the vast majority of the match, the two players went toe-to-toe from the baseline, with Nadal offsetting the litany of drop shots played by Djokovic.
This strategy by the Serbian, to draw Nadal to the net and prevent him from getting a rhythm on the baseline, was made evident from the outset, as he played four such drop shots in the first game. Patently, Djokovic’s strategy failed – he lost the opening set to love.
Djokovic’s vulnerability on serve continued to haunt him
It took 56 minutes for the Serbian to register his first game of the match, however his hard work was soon undone. Nadal quickly broke the Serb’s serve in the second set, compounding what had already been an impressive performance at Roland Garros. Djokovic’s vulnerability on serve continued to haunt him, and he lost the second set in a similar vein as the first.
The third set was much more like what we would have expected prior to the final, with the pair exchanging breaks of serve. However, just as there appeared to be a smidgeon of hope, Djokovic double faulted at 5-5 to gift Nadal the game, which he duly capitalised on. For the thirteenth time, Nadal would soon be crowned French Open champion.
In what was ultimately a heavily one -sided victory, the true chasm in performance came from Nadal’s ability to absorb all of Djokovic’s early pressure in the rally. The Spaniard’s use of angled shots unsettled the world number one, who today truly witnessed Nadal’s excellence on clay.
His victory at Roland Garros means that Nadal now stands alongside Federer on twenty Grand Slams apiece.