It was an outstanding performance for an historic achievement by Rafael Nadal as he brushed aside Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, to become the first ever player to win a tenth French Open title.
Few could doubt Nadal’s form going into the final after he dropped just 29 games on route. Nevertheless, it was expected that the unpredictable Wawrinka was the one player that could trouble him. The expectation failed to occur as the 31-year-old hit a total of 27 winners and dominated his opponent during the majority of the rallies to become the first man aged over 30 to win a 15th major title. The relentless and audacity of Nadal’s play made the third best player in the world look somewhat ordinary.
“It’s really unbelievable. To win my tenth (title in Roland Garros) is incredible, it is very very special. I would like to thank everybody today. I’m very emotional.” The champion said following the win.
“The feeling I have here (in Roland Garros) is impossible to describe compared to other places.” He added.
On what was a crucial day for both men playing on Court Philippe Chatrier, nerves were visible from the onset. Nadal was bidding to become the first player in the Open Era to win the same grand slam event for a tenth time. Meanwhile, Wawrinka was aiming to become only the second man in history to win their first four grand slam finals after Roger Federer.
As the nerves resulted in a series of errors from both, it was Nadal that appeared the more consistent and settled of the two. In only his second service game, Wawrinka was forced to save a quartet of break points to level 2-2 with the Spaniard. It wasn’t long before the Swiss buckle under Nadal’s intensity, hitting a backhand into the net and allowing him to break for 4-2. With the Spaniard in control of the match, the superiority of his shot-making secured set point after just 40 minutes of play. The lead was then sealed following error No.17 from the Swiss.
Muscling his way through, Nadal continued to bully Wawrinka around the court with the help of his swift and deep shots. The performance drew admiration from the French crowd and moved Wawrinka, a three-time grand slam champion, to the brink of despair. This was illustrated when Wawrinka was seen trying to eat a tennis ball as he dropped his serve to love at the start of set number two.
Even Wawrinka’s signature backhand shot failed to derail the Nadal party. The fourth seed was a wall that refused to be broken, as he returned some impressive angle shots from his opponent back with extra interest. It wasn’t just Nadal’s defensive play on fire, his serving was also pivotal. On route to a 6-2, 5-2, lead he dropped just three points behind his first serve. Securing the two-sets lead was a walk in the park as a Nadal serve was too much for Wawrinka to handle, who received a warning for racket abuse on the previous point.
Charging towards the Roland Garros finish line, a forehand winner into the corner of the court secured Nadal an early break at the start of the third. It was only a matter of time before the ‘La Decima’ dream became a reality. Even 0-30 down in one of his service games, Nadal conjured up some magic to hold. In contrast, Wawrinka struggled to hold, firing a forehand beyond the baseline to secure a double break for 4-1 in Nadal’s favour. The emphatic victory was secured a fraction over the two-hour mark when an attempted drop-shot from Wawrinka backfired, prompting Nadal to fall to the floor.
Relishing in his latest triumph in Paris, a somewhat emotional Nadal paid tribute to the tournament. He is the first fourth seeded player to win the trophy since his maiden achievement in 2005 and has now won 79 out of 81 matches played at the tournament.
“For me the nerves, the adrenaline, I feel when I play this is impossible compare to another feeling.” He explained.
“It is the most important event in my career without a doubt. To win again here is something I can not describe.”
Wawrinka pays tribute
A bitterly disappointed Wawrinka hailed his opponent following their match. The rocky performance of the Swiss player saw him produce 29 unforced errors, more than two-times that of Nadal.
“Rafa, I have nothing to say about today. You were too good. You are a great example and it’s always been an honour to play against you. Congrats on your career, to you and your team.” Said Wawrinka.
Following the loss, the 32-year-old has also missed out of the No.2 position, which would have been a new high in his career.
During the trophy presentation, there was a feeling of nostalgia around the court with a video showing all ten of Nadal’s wins. It was a moment that will be embedded in the Spaniards memory for as long as he lives.
“It’s difficult to talk today but the only thing I can say is thank you. For me to be here for many years is difficult to describe. I come back and see people I have a good relationship with and it’s very special.” Said 10-time French Open champion Nadal.
“It’s difficult for me to compare this to any other event. You are always going to be in my heart.”
Securing 2.1 million euros in Prize Money, Nadal will rise to second in the world when the rankings are published on Monday. It will be his highest position since October 2014.
Casper Ruud and Cristian Garin reach the semifinal in Hamburg
Last week’s Rome Masters 1000 semifinalist Casper Ruud reached his second consecutive semifinal in Hamburg after beating Ugo Humbert 7-5 3-6 6-1 after 2 hours and 36 minutes.
Ruud, the son of former Norwegian star Christian Ruud, converted four of his 17 break points and dropped his serve twice.
Both players traded breaks in in the fifth and sixth games in the opening set and stayed neck and neck in the next games. Humbert earned two set points in the 10th game, which featured six deuces. Ruud saved both opportunities to draw level to 5-5 and broke serve to take a 6-5 lead. The Scandinavian player held serve at love with a smash winner to seal the first set 7-5 after 64 minutes.
Humbert broke serve in the fourth game of the second set with a backhand winner and saved all five break points in the fifth and seventh games before closing out the first set 6-3 with an ace. Ruud fended off a break point in the first game of the decisive set and broke serve at love in the second game.
Ruud broke serve at 4-1, as Humbert netted a forehand, and served out the match in the next game. Ruud set up a semifinal match against last year’s finalist Andrey Rublev.
Chile’s Cristian Garin came back from one set down to beat lucky loser Alexander Bublik 3-6 6-4 6-4. Garin will play against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the oher semifinal.
Bublik earned breaks in the first and ninth games to win the first set 6-3. Garin broke serve in the second game and saved two break points in the sixth and eights games to win the second set 6-4. Garin earned his only break at love in the fifth game to seal the decisive set 6-4. Garin will face Stefanos Tsitsipas for the first time in his career on the ATP Tour in the semifinal.
“I am happy to be in the semifinals. Hamburg is a really special tournament. I am having a good week and I am playing my best tennis”, said Garin.
‘He Needs To Bulk Up’ – Tennis Great Cast Doubt On Alex De Minaur’s French Open Chances
John Newcombe believes it will be a few more years before the world No.27 reaches his peak.
One of Australia’s most decorated Grand Slam champions of all time believes compatriot Alex de Minaur still has a way to go before he poses a threat at the French Open.
Former world No.1 John Newcombe believes the 21-year-old needs to improve on his physicality before reaching his peak on the surface. De Minaur comes into the Grand Slam high in confidence after reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open in what was his best performance at a major so far in his career. He was knocked out of the tournament by eventual winner Dominic Thiem.
Although De Minaur’s preparations for the clay took a blow last week after he lost the first round of the Italian Open to German qualifier Dominik Koepfer. The world No.27 had a set and 3-0 lead over Koepfer before losing. He is not playing in any tournament this week leading up to Roland Garros.
“I’d have to see the draw, how it comes out, but it will be hard work for him,” Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press about de Minaur’s chances in Paris.
“He’s going to have to do a hell of a lot of work. If he got to the quarters, it would be a terrific effort.
“He’s not going to be physically where he needs to be, just bulking up a bit, until he’s 25, 26.
“But he’s got a good all-court game and he understands the game well, so there’s no reason he can’t be a pretty good late maturer (on clay).”
This year’s clay-court major will be the fourth time the Australian has played in the main draw. In his three previous appearances, de Minaur has only won one match which was against Bradley Klahn last year.
During a recent interview with atptour.com, the Next Gen star gave little away about his expectations for the clay this year given the revised schedule. The French Open is taking place just two weeks after New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the sport to a five-month standstill earlier this year.
“Realistically, you never know until you step out and play matches. It’s a very quick turnaround, something that has never happened to play such an important event after a slam. I’m taking it all in, doing as best as I can and we will have to see,” he said.
De Minaur has won three ATP titles and has scored four wins over top 10 players so far in his career. He is currently the only player from his country ranked in the world’s top 40 on the ATP Tour.
Novak Djokovic claims his 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome
Novak Djokovic came back from 0-3 down in the first set to beat Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 53 minutes in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. Djokovic claimed his fifth title in the Eternal City and his 36th Masters 1000 trophy and his 81st career title. Djokovic has become the oldest Rome champion.
The World number 1 player extended his record in 2020 to an impressive record of 31 wins in 32 matches, including four titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, the Western and Southern Open in New York and Rome.
Djokovic dropped his serve three times and earned five breaks of serve.
Djokovic wasted a game point and dropped his serve, when he netted his backhand. Schwartzman hit four service winners in the second game to consolidate the break for 2-0.
Djokovic made a backhand error to face a break point in the third game. Schwartzman earned his second break to open up a 3-0 after 18 minutes, as Djokovic netted another backhand. Djokovic earned a break point chance and conveted it after a double fault from Schwartzman.
Djokovic held serve at 15 with an ace in the fifth game to claw his way back to 2-3. The Serbian star forced an error from Schwarzman to earn a breka point in the sixth game and got the break, when the Argentine netted a forehand. Djokovic held serve at 15 to take a 4-3 in the seventh game. Schwartzman hit a forehand down the line winner at 30-15 in the eighth game and held serve with a service winner to draw level to 4-4.
Djokovic saved a break point in the ninth game with a volley winner and held serve to take a 5-4 lead. Schwartzman saved a set point with a forehand winner and drew level to 5-5 after two deuces with a backhand the line winner.
Djokovic held serve after a deuce to take a 6-5 lead forcing Schwartzman to serve to stay in the set for the second time. Djokovic converted his third set point to win the opening set 7-5 after 70 minutes.
Schwartzman earned an early break at the start of the second set. Djokovic got the break back to draw level to 1-1 when Schwartzman sent a forehand wide.
Djokovic hit a winner at the net to hold serve in the third game. Schwartzman hit four winners in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2.
Djokovic saved two break points in the fifth game and held serve with a service winner to take a 3-2 lead. Schwartman held serve with a drop shot. Djokovic won his service game at love to take a 4-3 lead and broke serve at love in the eighth game with a backhand down the line winner. Djokovic held serve at love to close out the final.
“”It was a great week. A very challenging week. I don’t think I played my best tennis throughout the entire week, but I think I found my best tennis when I needed it the most in the decisive moments today, yesterday and in every match. That definitely makes me very satisfied and proud that I managed to find that fifth gear when it was most needed. Turning to Paris, I could not ask for a better tournament here in Rome. Another big title and i super pleased with it”, said Djokovic.
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