Oct/20

11

Rafa Masterpiece: The finest red clay match ever played today

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 61 62 75 today in the final of the French Open, it was quite possibly the finest performance on a red clay court by a human being.

The historical triumph by the Spanish champion is his 13th overall French Open win and his 20th Grand Slam singles titles, which has tied the mark of Roger Federer.

Post match quotes:

Nadal:

“I played at an amazing level of tennis. For two-sets-and-a-half sets I played great. I can’t say another thing. It’s 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’s] something that I am very proud of.”

“Winning here means everything to me. It’s not the moment to think about the 20th [Grand Slam] title to equal Roger. For me, today it’s about the Roland Garros victory. It means everything to me. Most of the most important moments of my career have been here. I love this city and this court.”

“In Australia, [Novak] killed me, but today was for me (6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the AO final 2019). That’s part of the game. After all the things I have been through in my career in terms of injuries, without a great team and family around me, everything would be impossible.”

“I want to send a message to everyone around the world. We are facing one of the worst moments we can remember, in our fight against this virus. [We] just need to keep going, stay positive and we’ll get through this together.”

Djokovic:

“Congratulations to Rafa. What you are doing on this court is unbelievable. Not just this court, but throughout your entire career you have been a great champion. You have shown why you are ‘King of Clay’. It was a very tough match for me today. I was not so pleased with the way I played, but also I was definitely outplayed by a better player today.”

“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 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, the level. He’s phenomenal. He played a perfect match, especially in the first two sets.”

“In the third set, I managed to come back. I kind of found my groove on the court. Then there were a couple of close games. I had my chances, didn’t use them. He closed out the match. That’s it. He was the far better player on the court today and absolutely deserved to win.”

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9 comments

  • George · October 11, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    A decade ago I was single and traveling through Europe. I remember watching the big three play grand slam finals in hotel rooms.

    Now I am settled and married with three children. My life has changed completely. Yet I am still watching the same three play grand slam finals.

    I wonder if my future grandchildren will still be watching Rafa win the French Open…

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 11, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Djokovic blew a 40 15 lead in the first game. Used 4 drop shots in that game unsuccessfully. That game was very important and it set a tone which Djokovic was unable to escape.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 11, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Couple of observations. Rafa was totally focused, he did not waste any energies on yelling Vamos or making any animated fist pumps, when he won big points with a spectacular shot, he forgot it and focused on next point. I never saw him so totally focused like this before. He also used minor stall tactics twice, early in the first game on the 40-30 Djokovic game point he went to his towel and made Djokovic wait for him. He also did this again on the break point late in the third set, making Djokovic wait for him though he was the one returning and should have been ready. Nadal won both of those critical points too. Nadal was superior on every level today, it was a perfect performance and he knew it had to be to beat Djokovic. I also think the training on clay skipping Cincy and US Open was an advantage for Rafa. Another critical mistake by the Djokovic team was when Goran said in the media if they play in the final, Rafa has no chance to beat Djokovic. This kind of disrespect fuels Nadal and Goran saying it served no positive purpose except to give Rafa more incentive. Some costly errors by Djokovic team but Nadal was absolutely flawless today and this performance deserves recognition as possibly the finest clay court match ever played.

  • Rafi · October 12, 2020 at 12:18 am

    I totally agree with you Scoop.
    I would like to just comment on couple of things.
    First it looks to me that dropshots were being overused in this tournament probably even more by Djokovic. Once a dropshot loses its surprise effect it’s useless, it actually helps the opponent to anticipate it resutling in winning those kind of points more often, not to metnion that it becomes mentally draining (to the player who unsuccessfully uses a drop shot).Overusing a dropshot can also be translated (by opponents as having low self confidence on a given day even if that’s not the case.

    Second by learning from you about Goran’s comments, he actually (as they say)”shot himself in the foot”, cause the last thing you want is to wake up a sleeping lion (just in case the lion is napping).
    Bottom line congratulations to Rafa although most people expected or hoped to watch at least a 4 or 5 setter with each set similar to the third set.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2020 at 9:21 am

    Rafi, Could be wrong on this interpretation but I think Djokovic using those 4 drop shots in the first game was a sign of his overconfidence and a message conveyed that he thought he could toy with Rafa with so many drop shots. I don’t agree that Djokovic used those drop shots as bail out shots, to get out of the point. They were to challenge Rafa and to surprise him and irritate and frustrate him. But that gameplan failed miserably as Rafa came back to win that first game from the 15-40 deficit and it set the tone for the match. Djokovic’s first gameplan idea failed and so did everything else. Maybe deep down Djokovic felt he needed to try something so different this time for this special match.

  • Doug Day · October 12, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Ok Scoop, but in what world does the GOAT returner (he was 50% for the tournament) barely manage only ONE break? Where was THE weakness in this matchup? Namely Rafa’s serve on clay.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Doug, maybe Djokovic falling behind early in the first two sets made him return more conservatively. For whatever reason Djokovic’s return game was less damaging as usual, all credit for that goes to how Nadal played.

  • Doug Day · October 12, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    How did the return G.O.A.T.manage only one break on clay? He was breaking at a rate of 50% the entire tournament!

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Doug, Nadal psyched out Djokovic and broke down his best weapon.

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