Photo: Fafael Nadal takes a bite out of the French Open trophy after winning the title for the 13th time when he defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets on Sunday. (Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal underlined his status as the King of Clay when he destroyed world number one, Novak Djokovic in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, 7-6 to claim his 13th French Open title and 20th Gran Slam title overall at Roland Garros on Sunday.
Nadal needed only 2 hours and 41 minutes to turn back the challenge of Djokovic who never really came to the party until the third set, but by then it was too late as the Spaniard waltz to yet another victory on his favourite surface, as he registered victory number 100 at the tournament.
Despite Djokovic being the world number one, Nadal went into the final as favourite based on his history on clay and the fact that head to head, he held the decisive advantage of 6:1 over Djokovic on clay.
In a year when sports has been ravaged by Covid-19, only a smattering of spectators were allowed inside the venue to witness the spectacle, while millions were tuned in to their televisions sets to watch two giants of the game battle.
Nadal threw the first punch when he broke Djokovic on his first serve and despite taking Nadal to deuce on his first serve, Djokovic was unable to get an immediate break back, as the Spaniard prevailed to solidify the early break at 2-0 in the first set.
Nadal went 40-15 up on Djokovic’s second serve with a double break chance and though Djokovic got one back, Nadal was able to break again, to go 3-0 up early in the first set.
Djokovic went up 40-30 with another chance to break Nadal, but the Spaniard levelled at 40-40 and even though Djokovic held the advantage to break twice, in a game that lasted 10 minutes, Nadal held serve to take a 4-0 lead.
At 40-15 it seemed that Djokovic would finally have a first comfortable hold of serve, only for Nadal to draw level at 40-40. After deuce #3, Nadal broke for a third time to go 5-0 up with a chance to serve out the first set.
Both men used the court well with a mixture of power hitting and delicate drop shots, but Nadal had the decided advantage and with two set points at 40-15 and 5-0 up, he wasted no time to close out the set 6-0 in 45 minutes.
The second set threatened to begin the same as the first, but after deuce #3 Djokovic finally held serve after being 15-40 down, to go 1-0 up. Nadal then had a straight forward hold at 1-1, but Djokovic continued to struggle to hold serve and was broken again, as Nadal went 2-1 up in the set.
On Nadal’s next serve, Djokovic had a sniff of a chance to break at deuce, but Nadal continued to produce precise court play and then an unforced error from Djokovic, saw Nadal hold at 3-1.
Nadal continued to play shots that showed why he is considered the “King of Clay” as he broke Djokovic yet again to take a decisive 4-1 lead.
He was brutal and relentless on his serve, holding at nil to go 5-1 up, which gave him a chance to take a two sets lead.
The Serb who had 15 unforced errors up to that point, was in desperate need of a hold, if only to extend the set further and managed to do so at 2-5 down, putting the pressure on the Spaniard to serve for the set.
As he has done so many times in his career, Nadal held firm to take the set 6-2, which meant he was just one set away from his 13th French Open title, while Djokovic would require the best three sets of his career to turn the match in his favour.
Djokovic got off to the required start in the third set as he took the first game, for his first hold of serve to start a set in the match.
But Nadal was not about to gift his opponent a way back into the match as he held serve at 1-1.
Despite being stretched to deuce, Djokovic held serve at 2-1 as the third set promised to be more challenging for Nadal, than the first two had been.
Nadal held serve again to make it 2-2 and shifted back the pressure on the Serb who was unable to hold serve for a third consecutive time in the set, allowing the Spaniard to take the advantage at 3-2.
Djokovic then had a rare opportunity to break when he led at 40-15, but Nadal was able to take it to deuce. Djokovic then had a second opportunity on the point and with the small crowd cheering him on, broke Nadal’s serve for the first time in the match, to level the set at 3-3.
With a small shift in momentum and the crowd rallying behind him, Djokovic then had his easiest service game, to hold at 4-3. Nadal then held serve at 4-4 as the third set delivered what the fans had expected at the start of the match.
Djokovic then held serve once more at 5-4, but not before being pushed to deuce, yet again, by the tireless Nadal who kept on chasing every single point. Another hold from Nadal took the set to 5-5.
The service umpire was kept just as busy as the players and had to leave his seat twice to adjudicate as Nadal broke Djokovic at 6-5 after some close line calls, to set up championship point and a chance to serve for the match.
Nadal then produced a perfect serving game on match point to win his 13th French Open title at 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.