French Open Takeaways: Nadal in a class of his own at Roland Garros

The chilly, windy and damp fortnight at Roland Garros has now come to an end, and while the event didn’t have its usual atmospheric feel because of the limited crowds, we witnessed plenty of history at this year’s edition of the French Open.

Here are seven takeaways from Roland Garros 2020.

Nadal makes tennis history

There are three certainties in life. Death. Taxes. Rafael Nadal winning the French Open.

Rafael Nadal capped an almost flawless two weeks of tennis with a warning shot, dominating Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to win his record thirteenth French Open crown and 20th major overall. The level in the final, was at times, breathtaking.

Nadal’s 20th grand slam ties him with Roger Federer for the most all-time among men’s singles players, while his 13 wins at the French Open stand alone as the most titles ever won at a single event. That fact didn’t seem to bother Roger Federer, who penned this classy message to his rival:

Nadal is now 100-2 at Roland Garros through his career, with his only losses coming in 2009 to Robin Soderling and 2015 to Novak Djokovic. His greatness at the French Open and on clay will be remembered as one of the most impressive feats in all of sport.

From Aga to Iga

The country of Poland has been keen to find a grand slam champion.

Former world number two Aga Radwanska came close, reaching the Wimbledon final in 2012, and notching 20 career titles.

Her influence perhaps paved the way for many young Polish competitors, including Iga Swiatek.

The unseeded 19 year-old bulldozed her way through the women’s field, eventually defeating Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 to win the Roland Garros crown, becoming the first player of Polish descent to ever capture a major.

Swiatek, who arrived at the event ranked 54th, played an enthralling brand of tennis through two weeks, with aggressive baseline tactics, exceptional court coverage and wonderful variation — changing rhythms with heavy topspin angles and under-spin drop shots.

She lost just 28 games over the entire event, a tournament that included a 6-1, 6-2 statement victory over consensus favourite Simona Halep.

Swiatek possesses remarkable talent and poise. Do your best in learning how to pronounce her name. It is one we might very well see for years to come.

Ranking is just a number?

Iga Swiatek wasn’t the only unseeded player wreaking havoc in Paris.

Both the men’s and women’s field were ripe with upsets and deep runs from unknown commodities.

131st-ranked Argentinian Nadia Podoroska became the first qualifier to ever reach the semifinals of a French Open, making the final four with a stunning upset of Elina Svitolina.

Italian Martina Trevisan, who had never won a grand slam match in her career, reached the quarterfinals with upset wins over Coco Gauff, Maria Sakkari and Kiki Bertens along the way.

20-year-old French qualifier Hugo Gaston, just 239th in the world, became an instant fan favourite with his brand of drop-shot tennis. The wise clay court tactic helped him reach the fourth round and force a five-set marathon with world No. 3 Dominic Thiem. Gaston hit 59 total drop shots in that match alone.

Other long shots included 75th-ranked Jannik Sinner, a teenaged Italian phenom who made his first grand slam quarterfinal, and 66th-ranked Laura Siegemund, a 32-year-old veteran of the WTA, who posted her best ever major result, also making the final eight.

The depth of both tours proves that anybody who can qualify for a grand slam event can play a high level of tennis and make some noise.

It’s cold out here!

Grand Slam tennis in Paris during the fall provides a stark difference weather-wise compared to what competitors are used to in the May and June months.

Much of the two weeks was filled with bitterly cold, damp weather, with temperatures sometimes falling below 10 degrees.

This year’s U.S. Open finalist, Victoria Azarenka, was particularly irate about the conditions early in the tournament.

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