The second major event during the COVID-19 pandemia, moved from the end of May to the end of September, and for the first time played with a retractable roof above Philipp Chatrier court. Besides that 11 other roof-less courts were equipped with floodlights. The entire event was played in completely different conditions than usually, every day the temperature just between 12 and 20 degrees and permanent drizzle.
Final: (2)Rafael Nadal d. (1)Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5
Nadal produced a tactical masterclass against World No. 1 Djokovic on Sunday to clinch a historic 13th Roland Garros crown, which also marked his 100th match win at the clay-court major championship. The Spanish superstar barely put a foot wrong in a three-set victory over 2016 champion Djokovic to capture a record-equalling 20th major singles trophy and draw level with all-time leader Roger Federer. The final was played under a closed roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier. “I played at an amazing level of tennis,” said Nadal, after he clinched the 60th clay-court title and the 86th trophy of his career. “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 the cold October conditions, a far cry from the warmth of early June when the Roland Garros final is traditionally played, 1,000 spectators, including Nadal’s team and family members, wore face masks and wrapped up to brave the elements. The only thing that was normal was Nadal, who extended his legacy at the tournament with victory over Djokovic in 2 hours and 41 minutes. Nadal dropped to his knees in celebration after striking an ace for victory in his ninth Grand Slam championship final against Djokovic. It was his 27th win over the Serbian and Nadal’s first since May 2019 in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final in Rome. The 34-year-old, who improves to a 22-4 record on the 2020 season, is now just one match win away from becoming the fourth player to record 1,000 career victories. Only Jimmy Connors (1,274), Federer (1,242) and Ivan Lendl (1,068) have won more tour-level matches. “In Australia, [Novak] killed me, but today was for me,” said Nadal, who had lost to Djokovic 3-6, 2-6, 3-6 in the 2019 Australian Open final. “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.” At the end of his on-court interview, Nadal also provided a message of support to those who are suffering as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. “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.” Stats of the final
Second semifinal: (1)Novak Djokovic d. (5)Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1
Djokovic survived a major scare at Roland Garros on Friday, as he held off a spirited comeback attempt from Tsitsipas to secure a semi-final victory. The World No. 1 advanced to his fifth final on the Parisian terre battue after 3 hours and 54 minutes, hitting 56 winners en route to 37th win from 38 matches this year. Djokovic, who held match point at 5:4 in the third set, joins a group of seven players to have reached five finals at the clay-court Grand Slam championship. Only Rafael Nadal (13) and Bjorn Borg (6), have reached more Roland Garros championship matches. After saving break points in his first service game, Djokovic ripped a crosscourt forehand winner in the following game to establish a 2:0 lead. The World No. 1 showed great movement and balance later in the set to save break point in a 23-shot rally and maintain his advantage. The 81-time tour-level titlist once again fired a crosscourt forehand winner to close that game. In the second set, Djokovic chased down balls from behind the baseline to keep rallies alive and frustrate his opponent. Tsitsipas led 40/0 in service games at 2-all and 2:4, but was broken on both occasions as Djokovic forced the Greek to play one extra shot. After extracting crucial errors, Djokovic achieved near perfection on serve at 5:2. The top seed served out the set with three aces and one unreturned serve. Djokovic appeared to make the decisive move at 4-all in the third set. The 17-time Grand Slam champion used the drop shot to mix up play – as he has throughout the European clay swing – and outmanoeuvre his opponent. With Djokovic serving for the match, Tsitsipas saved match point in a backhand-to-backhand rally and played with power from the baseline to reach 5-all. After a comfortable service hold, Tsitsipas continued to take his game to Djokovic and fired a forehand up the line to take the match to a fourth set. After trading breaks earlier in the set, Tsitsipas pounced late to level the match. With Djokovic serving at 4:5, 40/15, the 22-year-old struck a drop shot of his own to increase the pressure on his opponent. Djokovic committed consecutive backhand errors and netted an attempted to drop shot to lose the set. Tsitsipas saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced in the fourth set (faced break points in each service game of the set as well as in the first two games of the decider!). Djokovic continued to trust his drop shot in the decider and the stroke paid dividends at 1-all. After attacking Tsitsipas’ backhand, the top seed carved a crosscourt drop shot to earn an early break. The 33-year-old charged to the finish line, returning with consistent aggression as he ended the match with a forehand return winner. Stats of the match.
First semifinal: (2)Rafael Nadal d. (12)Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(0)
Nadal moved one victory away from a record-extending 13th Roland Garros trophy on Friday, beating Schwartzman on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Gaining revenge for his Rome quarter-final loss to the Argentine, Nadal landed 38 winners and converted six of nine break points to reach his fourth straight Roland Garros final (2017-20). This is the third time in the Spaniard’s career that he has reached four or more consecutive championship matches on the Parisian clay. Nadal won the Coupe des Mousquetaires in Paris from 2005 to 2008 and claimed five consecutive titles from 2010 to 2014. “Today I think the experience of Rome helped me in some way because I was able to take a look [at] the match, to analyse the things that worked well and things that, of course, didn’t work… I think I played tactically the right match… I am super happy about the match,” said Nadal. “[It is] an important victory for me against a very tough player. To win against Diego, you have to work a lot and you have to play well for such a long time.” Nadal’s victory moves him to within one win of equalling Roger Federer’s record haul of 20 Grand Slam crowns. The 19-time Grand Slam champion closed the gap on Federer to one major trophy by winning last year’s US Open and is now closer than he has ever been to matching his great rival’s tally. The opening game of the match provided an early indicator to the battle ahead, with both men duelling from the baseline for 14 minutes as Nadal attempted to hold serve. The Spaniard was forced to save two break points, before ripping a crosscourt backhand winner to get on the scoreboard. Three consecutive breaks followed, as Nadal established a 3:1 lead by using his forehand down the line and moving to the net to finish points. The 12-time champion faced regular pressure on serve, but closed the set after 64 minutes when Schwartzman fired a backhand into the net. Nadal extended his advantage early in the second set, driving his groundstrokes into Schwartzman’s forehand corner to earn break point. The 59-time clay titlist broke through when Schwartzman mis-timed an attempted backhand up the line. Nadal also began to find rhythm on his serve, improving his first-serve points won from 63 per cent in the opening set to 81 per cent. Nadal clinched a two-set advantage by breaking serve for the fourth time. The Manacor native drove a forehand up the line on set point, which Schwartzman failed to control on his forehand. Errors continued to flow from Schwartzman’s racquet at the start of the third set, as he failed to control his groundstrokes to hand Nadal a 3:1 lead. It proved to be the first of four straight service breaks, as the second seed struggled to consolidate his advantage. After eventually finding his way through a marathon game at 5-all, saving three break points with aggressive play and three winners (Schwartzman should have won one of those points), Nadal booked his final spot with a dominant tie-break performance. The World No. 2 displayed quick reactions at the net and extended rallies with great defensive skill to clinch seven points without reply. ”You have to suffer. You can’t pretend to be in a final of Roland Garros without suffering. That’s what happened [at 5-5]. But I found a way,” said Nadal.
There were scary moments for World No. 1 Djokovic in his Roland Garros quarter-final against Carreno Busta. But despite visibly struggling with his left arm early on Wednesday evening, the Serbian triumphed. The 2016 champion only lost 25 games en route to the last eight in Paris, a personal best. But it was clear he was in for a battle early against the 17th seed, launching many unforced errors and massaging — or, in some case hitting — his left arm on nearly every changeover in the first set. Following treatment from an ATP physio following the set, Djokovic settled in and charged into his 10th Roland Garros semi-final. Even if he wasn’t physically at 100 per cent, Djokovic battled hard, pumping himself up with roars throughout the match. As the match wore on, he played relatively clean tennis and found a rhythm on return to scrape past the indefatigable Spaniard after 3 hours and 10 minutes. The first indication something was amiss for the 33-year-old was when he walked on Court Philippe-Chatrier with tape on his neck. Djokovic showed his discomfort by trying to adjust his arm between points. Carreno Busta took full advantage at the start of the match, playing solid tennis and placing balls deep in the court to force Djokovic to beat him, which he wasn’t able to do in the first set. The 17-time major champion landed only 40 per cent of his first serves in the opener, indicating issues with his service toss. Early in the second set, he gingerly hit an overhead (saving a break point at 1-all). But Djokovic quickly regained his form, making 70 per cent of his first deliveries in the second set and significantly reduced his error count for the rest of the match. The top seed only made seven unforced errors in the second and began playing with more margin, showing a willingness to hang in longer rallies with the 17th seed. In the first game of the third set, the Serbian faced two break points. He let out massive screams knowing that was a pivotable moment. Djokovic held on and then broke with a backhand drop shot, sprinting to a 3:0 lead. Carreno Busta did not go away, getting back on serve with a forehand winner. But Djokovic was the more consistent player, while also being more aggressive. Once again the Serbian made just seven unforced errors in the third set (he saved a break point at 3-all), putting a lot of pressure on the Spaniard in key moments. Djokovic got the decisive break of the 4th set at 3-all, he saved three break points in the following game.
3rd quarterfinal: (5)Stefanos Tsitsipas d. (13)Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2, 6-3
Tsitsipas powered through to his second Grand Slam championship semi-final on Wednesday at Roland Garros. Fifth seed Tsitsipas avenged his recent Hamburg European Open final loss to No 13 seed Rublev of Russia with a victory over 1 hour and 55 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier. “I felt comfortable playing on this court and despite getting off to a bad start and being a break down, I remembered what a big fighter I am,” said Tsitsipas, in an on-court interview with Cedric Pioline. “It’s also about finding solutions in difficult moments and I managed to put my brain to work.” Rublev broke clear in the fifth game with a forehand drop volley winner and held his advantage to 5:3, when he came within three points of the set. However, Tsitsipas grew in confidence to break back and was handed the 48-minute first set when Rublev over-hit a forehand long. It was the first time that Tsitsipas had won a first set against Rublev, who won their first tour-level meeting at the 2019 US Open, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-5. Tsitsipas, who won five straight games from 3:5 in the first set to 1:0 in the second set, fortuitously broke for a 4:2 advantage in the second set, when a backhand rose sharply off the top of the net at 15/40 to catch Rublev off guard. Tsitsipas continued to draw Rublev to the net and the Russian buckled under the pressure at 2:5, losing his serve for a fourth time when he hit a backhand long. There was no way back for Rublev, who was broken in the fourth game of the third set. Rublev saved one match point at 2:5, 30/40 with an unreturned serve, but Tsitsipas wasn’t to be denied for long. The Greek soon completed victory with his 35th winner of the match, a forehand volley. Rublev’s second consecutive major in which he loses quarterfinal in straight sets.
2nd quarterfinal: (2)Rafael Nadal d. Jannik Sinner 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-1
Nadal beat 19-year-old Sinner after 2 hours and 49 minutes in their Roland Garros quarter-final, which ended just short of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in Paris. Nevertheless, the future looks bright for the Italian. “I’m very, very happy to be in the semi-finals again here at Roland Garros,” Nadal said on court. “No doubt that this is the most important place for me and the most beautiful place to play. [I’m] just very, very happy.” One of the toughest challenges in sports is beating Nadal on the Parisian clay. But Sinner, the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, showed no fear against the 12-time champion. The teen served for the first set and led by an early break in the second set before succumbing against the legendary lefty, who has been in devastating form this fortnight. Nadal has not lost a set en route to his 13th semi-final at this event, only dropping 34 games in 15 sets. Sinner, who wasn’t ranked highly enough to play Roland Garros qualifying last year, went blow-for-blow from the baseline with Nadal, a rare sight on the ATP Tour. The Italian never panicked, looking especially comfortable in cross-court rallies between his two-handed backhand and Nadal’s lethal forehand, a pattern reminiscent of Novak Djokovic’s matches against the Spaniard. But in key moments, the second seed crucially proved steadier. It was a high quality match, with Nadal winning 59 per cent of his second-serve points. “Sinner is a very, very young talent with a lot of power, great shots. For two sets it was tough, especially at the end of that first set. I was lucky to be back from 5:6, having to break him back. The conditions here were a little bit difficult because he was hitting every ball very hard,” Nadal said. “For me it was difficult to pull him out of position. I think in the third set I did much better and I finished playing much more aggressive. That was the only way.” It’s the latest conclusion of a match in the French Open history. Nadal won his first match point at 1:28 a.m. while the previous record (Fognini-Monfils’ suspension) occurred just at 9:56 p.m.
Schwartzman recorded one of the biggest wins of his career on Tuesday in an energy-sapping five-hour, eight-minute victory for a place in the Roland Garros semi-finals. Schwartzman, the No. 13 seed, dug deep to win one of the matches of the year, over third seed Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 finalist, on Court Philippe-Chatrier in south-west Paris. The victory ensures his place in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday. Schwartzman, appearing in his fourth major championship quarter-final, recovered from 2:4 in the first set and 1:3 in the second set. He had the match on his racquet, but crucially missed a forehand on top of the net with his Austrian opponent serving at 4:5, 15/30 in the second set. Thiem dug deep to save one set point at 4:5 in the third set and three set points at 4:5 in the fourth set, which Schwartzman found a way to win to force a decider. “In the second set [and] the third set, I had a lot of opportunities, also easy opportunities,” said Schwartzman. “That’s why I was really upset, really angry with myself at the time in the second and in the third, when I was close to winning those sets. It was a tough situation, because in the fourth, he started playing so well. I did come back, serving 5:4, 40/0. He played three unreal points, amazing points, because he’s one of the best and he can do it. At that time I was thinking, ‘Okay, c’mon, today it’s not going to happen.” Schwartzman physically worked his way to his 20th victory of the year (20-9 record), wearing down Thiem, who had chased down drop shots against French wild card Hugo Gaston in a fourth-round match. Schwartzman hit 46 winners, while Thiem could only convert nine of his 22 break point chances and committed 81 unforced errors. Thiem saved the first break point of the match, in the opening game, and went on to open up a 4:2 advantage, before Schwartzman broke back and was supreme in the tie-break, winning the first five points. Thiem immediately regrouped to take a 3:1 lead in the second set, but hit his first double fault to hand Schwartzman the sixth game. At 4-4, Schwartzman dealt Thiem a psychological blow, saving seven break points in a 15-minute hold. But a forehand miss from Schwartzman on top of the net, with Thiem serving at 4:5, 15/30, proved to be pivotal. It shook up the Austrian, who broke for a 6:5 advantage for a way back into the pair’s ninth ATP Head2Head meeting. The titanic 68-minute second set ended with Schwartzman, often seen scurrying behind the baseline, striking a backhand into the net. Thiem appeared set to break clear when he clinched the first game of the third set, which incredibly featured eight breaks of serve. Schwartzman opened up 3:1 and 5:3 leads, but forehand errors, on both occasions, cost the Argentine. Thiem, struggling on serve throughout, gifted Schwartzman a set point at 4:5, 30/40, but the Argentine over-hit a backhand and came under pressure in the next game, when he was broken after striking a backhand long. Thiem, serving for the set, was then broken to 15, but won five straight points from 0/1 in the tie-break. Schwartzman saved two set points from 4/6, but Thiem made it third-time lucky at 7/6 with a smash winner. Thiem again looked primed for his 21st victory in 26 matches this season, when he took a 2:0 lead in the fourth set. But Schwartzman kept fighting and won four straight games. Just as Thiem’s energy levels looked to dipping with Schwartzman at 5:4, 40/0, the Austrian saved three set points — the final one with an outstanding running forehand winner down the line. Thiem then levelled the score at 5-5 when Schwartzman hit a forehand into the net. Again, the Argentine almost conjured up a way back, but it was the sheer power of Thiem that saved a break point at 30/40 in the next game. Thiem broke clear early in the tie-break, but Schwartzman held firm to take the clash to a decider once Thiem hit a backhand wide. Thiem continued to strike with great power in the decider, but Schwartzman stepped up with a 3:2 lead to out-rally the World No. 3 and didn’t look back. “At the end, I gave everything I had out there,” said Thiem. “It was an amazing match. I think the first in my career over five hours. Diego fully deserves it. I came back unbelievably in the fourth set. When he served for it at 5:4, 40/30, I played this down-the-line winner. The match was basically all the time on the edge for both of us. [In the] tie-break at 5-5, he played a great point. With that, I think he had a little advantage in the fifth set. I think, if I would have wanted to win that match, I should have done it in four [sets]. In the fifth set, he was just a little bit fresher and better than me.”