Phenomenal Nadal played perfect match, Djokovic says
The more things change the more they stay the same for French Open king Nadal
Spain’s Rafael Nadal demolished world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-0 6-2 7-5 in the French Open final to claim a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday.
With his record-improving 13th triumph at Roland Garros, world number two Nadal is now tied with Swiss Roger Federer as the player with the most men’s singles major titles.
Nadal was the early aggressor as he choked Djokovic to win the opening set in brutal fashion having made only two unforced errors.
He then kept a firm grip on a subdued Djokovic in the second set under the roof of court Philippe Chatrier.
Djokovic, who was looking to win his 18th Grand Slam title, rebelled in the third set, breaking back for 3-3, only to drop serve on a double fault in the 11th game.
Then Nadal went on to bag his 100th victory at Roland Garros with an ace.
Novak Djokovic was under no illusions about the Herculean effort it would take to beat Rafa Nadal in Sunday’s French Open final match which he lost.
But even the Serb was surprised by the level of perfection the Spaniard reached to win a 13th title on the Paris clay.
The 33-year-old Djokovic did not play badly in the final but it took him 55 minutes before he registered his first game in what turned out to be a mauling.
By that stage his task appeared about as hopeless as climbing the Eiffel Tower with his arms and legs tied together.
Although he battled valiantly, he was crushed 6-0 6-2 7-5.
“I don’t have much to say but that I was completely outplayed by Rafa, by the better player on the court,” top seed Djokovic, who many thought was a slight favourite to end Nadal’s domination at Roland Garros, told reporters.
“He was not missing at all and getting every ball back. Just playing tactically great. I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in a great form.
“Certainly, I could have played better, especially in the first two sets. But he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing.
“He’s phenomenal. He played a perfect match, especially in the first two sets,” Djokovic added.
Eight of the first 11 games went to deuce but whenever Djokovic had a sniff of a chance Nadal slammed the door shut.Incredibly, the Spaniard made only 14 unforced errors and while Djokovic made 52, many were the result of desperation as he tried to fathom a way to stop the onslaught.
“No holding him back it seems like. It’s amazing. I mean, I admire all his achievements, I mean, especially the one here,” Djokovic said of Nadal’s record at Roland Garros which now reads 100-2 in terms of wins and losses.
Djokovic had a 37-1 record this year going into the final, his only “loss” being his default at the U.S. Open when he struck a line judge with a ball in the fourth round.
Rarely does the sharp-minded Djokovic make a mistake with his strategy, but he said his ploy to use the dropshot liberally against Nadal, as he had all tournament, had backfired.
Nadal read most of them and Djokovic’s success rate with the shot was mediocre at best.
“It didn’t work great today, let’s say,” Djokovic, who has now lost all three French Open finals in which he faced Nadal, said.
“He was winning a lot of those dropshot points.
“I wanted to kind of disrupt his rhythm, obviously. But he was ready. He was there, he was prepared. He was playing all the right shots today,” he said.
Rafael Nadal is a creature of habit and there were suggestions that various new things at this year’s French Open could unsettle the Spaniard in his bid for a 13th Roland Garros title.
The way in which he crushed Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday, however, proved that it would take more than a new stadium, different balls and unfamiliar weather conditions to throw the claycourt king off his stride.
As usual, the Spaniard put his water bottles on his left side, labels facing the correct way, before starting his demolition job to humble Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 and match Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles.
While the closed roof should have given Djokovic an advantage, and heavier balls and chilly weather were detrimental to his devastating top spin his biggest weapon. Nadal delivered one of his best performances at Roland Garros.
“The personal satisfaction is big because under the circumstances that we played this Roland Garros, even if I played an amazing match this afternoon, the conditions are a little bit not the conditions that I will choose, never, to play an event like this.
“I was able to adapt well. I was able to, as I said the first day, to be positive in every circumstances that I was facing during the whole event, trying to accept all the challenges in terms of sometimes the feeling on the ball haven’t been great because of the cold and everything.
“I think is one of the Roland Garros that have a better personal value for myself,” Nadal, who now leads Djokovic 5-4 in their Grand Slam final confrontations, told a news conference.
In addition to the unusual conditions, Nadal was also facing a player who appeared at his peak, having suffered his only defeat of the year when he was defaulted at the U.S. Open.
But the Mallorcan raised his level to its maximum when it mattered after entering the tournament on the back of a quarter-final defeat at the Italian Open.
“For me, honestly, one month and a half ago if you tell me you’re going to have this trophy with you again, I will say, This year will probably be too difficult.
“I played an amazing level of tennis, no? For two sets and a half I played great. I can’t say another thing. It is impossible to have this score against him without playing great.
“I played a very good final. I played at my highest level when I needed to play at my highest level, so it is something I am very proud of ,” Nadal said. (Reuters/ NAN)