Tennis: Champions crowned in Paris

Spain’s Rafael Nadal poses with his trophy during a photo call on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, after winning the final match of the French Open tennis tournament against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in three sets, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 at the Roland Garros stadium. Photo by Francois Mori/AP Photo.

After two weeks of phenomenal tennis, the 2020 French Open singles champions were crowned. Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal continued their dominance with flawless performances in the finals. They both completed their French Open title runs without dropping a set. 

Swiatek showed no signs of nerves competing in her first Grand Slam final. She stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first set over this year’s Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin. Kenin was able to settle down after the opening few minutes and leveled the set at three games all. Swiatek and Kenin exchanged spectacular shots in the final few games of the opening set, but in the end, Swiatek took the set 6-4. 

Kenin had a promising start to the second set, breaking Swiatek’s serve. The Polish teen did not let that bother her though, as she immediately broke back. Swiatek displayed excellent court coverage and repeatedly struck winners from all areas of the court. Whatever Kenin threw at Swiatek, she had an answer for it. Swiatek was able to fire 12 winners past Kenin in the second set and create sensational angles to keep the fourth seed off balance. In just over a half-hour, Swiatek took the second set 6-1 and won the coveted French Open title. 

Swiatek was filled with emotion after winning her first-ever Grand Slam title. She waved to the crowd with a huge smile on her face and rushed to the stands to embrace her family and friends. 

“It’s just overwhelming for me, it’s crazy. Two years ago, I won a junior Grand Slam and right now I’m here. It feels like such a short time,” Swiatek told Marion Bartoli in an on-court interview following the match. 

Swiatek became the first Polish player to ever lift a Grand Slam singles title. She will rise from No. 54 to No. 17 in the rankings. 

The Eiffel Tower is seen in the background, as Poland’s Iga Swiatek, suddenly becoming a Grand Slam champion at the age of 19, poses with her trophy during a photo call on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, after winning the final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Saturday. Photo by Christophe Ena/AP Photo.

For the men’s singles title, Nadal and Novak Djokovic squared off for the 56th time in their careers. Heading into the final, Djokovic had the slight overall head to head edge with a 29-26 record over Nadal, but the Spaniard had the 17-7 edge on clay courts. Djokovic was aiming for his 18th Grand Slam title, but he was going to have to pull off one of the most difficult feats in all of sports to get there: defeating Nadal at the French Open. Entering the final, Nadal had a 99-2 record at the French Open, only losing to Djokovic in 2015 and Robin Soderling in 2009. 

Nadal started the match firing from all cylinders. He was placing his serves perfectly and delivering aggressive returns. Djokovic meanwhile struggled mightily with his serve, only putting up a first serve percentage of 42% in the opening set. The first set featured excellent scrambling and shot making from both players, but it was Nadal who came out on top in every important point. Nadal only committed two unforced errors while taking the opening set 6-0. 

Nadal continued to put Djokovic under immense pressure in the second set. Nadal jumped out to an early lead in set two and never looked back. He consistently turned defense into offense and left Djokovic wondering what he could possibly do to get back into the match. Nadal cruised to a two sets to none lead, taking the second set 6-2 without facing a break point. 

The third set saw a rise in Djokovic’s game and a slight dip in Nadal’s level of play. Djokovic began to dictate more of the points and Nadal started to throw a few more unforced errors. Although Djokovic was able to play better in the third set, he was no match for Nadal that afternoon. Nadal was able to hold comfortably in the majority of his service games and took the third set 7-5, making him a French Open champion for the 13th time in his career. 

Rafael Nadal’s victory saw him tie Roger Federer’s record of having the most Grand Slam singles titles in the men’s game at 20. Nadal’s impeccable run once again displayed to the world that he is the King of Clay. 

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