The last slam of 2020 took place on the red dirt of Roland Garros in Paris. The French Open took place in autumn as opposed to the usual spring period.
This is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which put all sports on hold for over three months. All tennis tournaments were suspended in February with the game not returning until July.
During the long hiatus, it was announced that this year’s French Open would take place between September 21 and October 11. The event started just a week after the US Open.
However, unlike the US Open, only a few top stars missed the tournament. The last two weeks have been a gruelling period with players complaining of the harsh conditions and heavy ball.
But despite the conditions, it was Nadal who reigned supreme once again, winning an unprecedented 13th title in Paris. On the women’s side, however, Poland star, Iga Swiatek joined the list of Grand Slam winners.
With the tournament over, Freshports highlights some of the things we learnt.
Nadal Finally Matches Federer: For over 15 years, Nadal has been trailing Federer in the Grand Slam titles race. It looked like he was not going to match the great Swiss, especially after Federer won three majors in 2017 and 2018.
But since Federer’s last win, Nadal has won four majors to move within just one of Federer. The French Open presented him with an opportunity to go level with his great rival, and it was one he took.
Some pleasing symmetry now as Federer and Nadal are tied at 20 Slams apiece:
Federer had won four Slams before Nadal won his first;
Nadal has won four Slams since Federer won his last*.
*last meaning most recent, who knows what the future holds.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) October 11, 2020
Having missed the defence of his US Open title due to precautions against Covid-19, Nadal arrived at Roland Garros as the favourite, even though he had lost to Diego Schwartzman in the semi-final of the Rome Masters.
He lived up to the billing, winning a record-extending 13th French Open without dropping a set. Before the tournament started, world number one, Novak Djokovic was tipped as the man likely to stop Nadal.
But Djokovic had no answers to Nadal’s brilliance in the final with Serbian admitting he was beaten by the greatest clay-court player of all time.
Nadal’s victory means he has now won 100 matches in Paris, losing just two. But the biggest news is that he ties his great rival on 20 grand slam titles. At the moment, he looks likely to overtake him next year, but it would also be interesting to see what Federer has in store.
Federer Is A Class Act: For a very long time, Federer was the top man in terms of Grand Slam honours. But on Sunday, he was joined by his greatest rival. However, he received the news like a true sportsman and was the first person to congratulate Nadal on his incredible achievement.
“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 said on Twitter.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) October 11, 2020
“Therefore, it is a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory.” “It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport,” Federer added.
“I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone. I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”
Federer’s words reaffirm the mutual respect between the two men. They have pushed each other, but they’ve also maintained a healthy relationship.
Nonetheless, the Swiss great is not done yet, and that showed in the last part of his statement. Bring on 2021!
Iga Swiatek’s Win Once Again Shows WTA’s Unpredictability: Like Nadal, Swiatek won the Women’s title without dropping a set. However, unlike the Spaniard, Swiatek’s win was not expected, which shows how things can change quickly on the Women’s tour.
Before the tournament, two-time grand slam champion was the overwhelming favourite but was knocked out in the fourth round by the eventual winner.
Swiatek’s win was deserved as she played the best tennis in the tournament. But it also raises questions on the quality and consistency of WTA stars.
Doubt Still Surround Thiem’s US Open? Dominic Thiem won his maiden major at the US Open, but he had to do it without facing none of the big three.
Although his win was celebrated, there were still some doubts as he had to do it without facing a member of the big three. The French Open presented him with the chance to clear those doubts, but he suffered a quarter-final loss to Diego Schwartzman.
Not to take anything away from his victory at the US Open, but he would need to back up that success by winning another major at a tournament including the big three.
Serena’s Wait Continues: The American arrived at Paris looking to tie Magaret Court’s haul of 24 grand slam title. Serena has been chasing that record since he returned from maternity lay off.
However, number 24 has eluded her so far. After winning her first-round match, she had to withdraw from her second-round match against Tsvetana Pironkova due to an Achilles injury.
Now 39, Serena has no much time left to equal Court’s record.