PARIS, France (AFP) — Rafael Nadal demolished Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to win his 13th French Open and equal the all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles held by Roger Federer who hailed the victory as “one of sport’s greatest achievements.”
For world No. 1 Djokovic, the defeat ended his hopes of an 18th Slam and of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors twice.
Nadal, 34, claimed his 100th match win at Roland Garros against just two defeats since his 2005 debut.
The Spaniard, the oldest champion in Paris since Andres Gimeno in 1972, claimed the title without dropping a set.
He finished the one-sided affair with just 14 unforced errors to his opponent’s 52.
“Congrats to Novak for another great tournament. Sorry for today. We’ve played plenty of times together – one day one wins, another the other,” Nadal said.
“After all the things I have been through in my career with injuries, I could not have done it without my family.”
Nadal said he wasn’t even thinking about matching Federer’s record.
“It’s been a very tough year. Winning here means everything to me so it’s not about equaling Roger on 20, for me today it’s just a Roland Garros victory,” said Nadal, who had skipped the US Open due to the global health crisis and was playing just his second tournament since February.
“Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent most of the most important moments of my tennis career here.
“Just playing here is a true inspiration. The love story I have with this court and city is unbelievable.”
For Djokovic, it was just his second loss of 2020 following his default at the US Open.
“Today, Rafa showed why you are the king of clay. I was out-played by a better player.”
Nadal also used his victory speech to thank organizers for staging the tournament, pushed back from its traditional May-June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to send a message to everyone around the world. We are facing one of the worst moments that we remember in this world, fighting against this virus. Keep going, stay positive.
“We will get through this and we will beat the virus soon.”
Federer was quick to hail Nadal, his long-time rival and close friend.
“It is a true honor for me to congratulate Rafa on his 20th Grand Slam victory,” said the Swiss star who missed the tournament to recover from knee surgery.
“It is especially amazing that he has won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times which is one of the greatest achievements in sport. I hope the 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us.”
The 56th meeting between the world’s top two players on Sunday started under the roof of Court Philippe Chatrier, intensifying the echo of a crowd limited to 1,000 due to the pandemic.