Rafael Nadal Routs Novak Djokovic to Win French Open for Record-Tying 20th Men’s Grand Slam Title

Rafael Nadal has lived to slay on clay another day…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star produced a nearly flawless performance against World. No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the French Open final on Sunday to tie Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles.

Rafael Nadal

 

Nadal equaled long-time rival Federer for the most major singles tennis championships won by a man and added to his own record at Roland Garros with No. 13 on the red clay, courtesy of a surprisingly dominant 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Djokovic.

“What you are doing in this court is unbelievable. Not just this court — throughout your entire career, you’ve been a great champion,” Djokovic told Nadal during the trophy presentation. “Today you showed why you are King of the Clay.”

Rafael NadalWhen Nadal ended it with an ace, he dropped to his knees, smiled widely and pumped his arms. It’s the fourth time he has won his favorite tournament without ceding a set.

“The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable,” Nadal said.

He deflected a question during the on-court post-match interview about catching Federer, saying his focus remained squarely on the French Open.

“[To] win here means everything to me, no? It’s not the moment, honestly … [to] think today about the 20th,” Nadal said. “Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that.”

Nadal, No. 2 in the rankings, improved to 100-2 at the French Open, including a combined 26-0 in semifinals and finals, and picked up his fourth consecutive title in Paris. He previously put together streaks of four French Open championships from 2005 to ’08, then five in a row from 2010 to ’14, to go alongside his four trophies at the US Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.

Nadal is now even with Federer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003. Federer’s first arrived at Wimbledon that year; Nadal, naturally, earned his first in France in 2005, by which point he trailed 4-0.

Federer reacted to Nadal’s win on Twitter, congratulating his “greatest rival.”

“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion,” Federer said in his post. “As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory.

“… I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”

Nadal is the oldest French Open champion since 1972, and the more than 15 years between his first and most recent Grand Slam titles is the longest such span for a man.

Diego Schwartzman Outlasts Dominic Thiem at the French Open to Advance to His First Grand Slam Semifinal

Diego Schwartzman is finally into a Grand Slam semifinal… And, he did it against a difficult opponent. 

The 28-year-old Argentine professional tenista played through the wind and rain, and into the dark of night, at the French Open, contesting a total of 376 points spread out across five sets and 5 hours, 8 minutes on Tuesday night, to outlast Dominic Thiem.

In the process, Schwartzman finally won a Grand Slam quarterfinal after failing in three previous tries.

Schwartzman, who at one point was two points from defeat against Thiem, the U.S. Open champion and two-time runner-up at Roland Garros, found his way and emerged with a 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory by taking the last four games.

“I was just so nervous, because I saw the chance today,” said the 12th-seeded Schwartzman.

He called his advancement into his first major semifinal “a big step.”

“At the end, this night, I deserved to win,” Schwartzman said with a chuckle.

Thiem said as much, too, about his friend after a grueling contest in which more than 100 of the points lasted at least nine strokes — frequently going past 20 or even 30 shots.

Schwartzman next will face 12-time champion Rafael Nadal. He beat the former World No. 1 at a clay-court tune-up event in Rome last month.

Nadia Podoroska Becomes First Qualifier in Open Era to Reach French Open Women’s Semifinals

Nadia Podoroska continues to surprise while making history at Roland Garros

The 23-year-old Argentine tennis player knocked out Elina Svitolina, the French Open‘s third seed on Tuesday, becoming the first qualifier to reach the women’s semifinals at the French tournament in the Open era.

Podoroska threw her racket in the air, tilted her head back and pumped both fists after stopping Svitolina from reaching a third semifinal in her past four Grand Slam tournaments.

Ranked 131st in the world, Podoroska had never won a main draw Grand Slam match before last week, and she could hardly believe it when she won 6-2, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Podoroska is only the third female qualifier to get to the semifinals at any major tournament in the Open era, which began in 1968, and the first since Alexandra Stevenson at Wimbledon in 1999.

Afterward, she was asked whether she was pinching herself to make sure it wasn’t all just a dream.

“No,” Podoroska replied. “I don’t want to wake up.”

Serving at 5-4 down, Svitolina saved two match points, the second with an audacious slice at the net to end a 27-shot rally.

But on the third match point, Podoroska hit a crisp forehand winner and then chucked her racket up toward the blue sky.

Podoroska, who is from the same city in Argentina as soccer superstar Lionel Messi, said she considered quitting tennis altogether a couple of years ago after “too many injuries,” including to her right wrist.

She was off the tour for eight months; her ranking dropped; she didn’t have enough money to travel to tournaments; she split with a coach she’d been working with for a decade.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Podoroska said.

She stuck with it, though, and now has a new team around her, based in Spain. And, by far, the best results of her career.

Svitolina, though, blamed herself for this outcome.

“Lots of things were not going my way,” Svitolina said. “I was not 100 percent mentally on it today, and that was really disappointing.”

In the semifinals, Podoroska will face unseeded 19-year-old Iga Swiatek.

Nadia Podoroska Advances to French Open Quarterfinals

Nadia Podoroska continues her Cinderella run at the French Open

The 23-year-old Argentine tennis player, a qualifier at this year’s event, outlasted the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in her maiden appearance at the Grand Slam tournament.

Nadia Podoroska

Podoroska, ranked No. 131 in the world, will face third seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine for a place in the semifinals.

Podoroska was the second qualifier to make the tournament’s last eight on Sunday following Italian world No. 159 Martina Trevisan‘s win over Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens.

Podoroska, who was ranked at No. 255 at the start of the season, has now won 42 matches across all tours in 2020, despite the truncated season, and will make her top 100 debut after the tournament.

She will now bid to emulate compatriot Paola Suarez who made the semifinals in Paris in 2004.

Three years ago, on her only other visit to Paris, Podoroska fell in the first round of qualifying, losing to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in just 39 minutes, winning just 21 points.

Diego Schwartzman Upsets ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open Quarterfinals

Diego Schwartzman has taken down the King of Clay in his ‘best match ever”…

The 28-year-old Argentine professional tennis player defeated former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open on Saturday.

Diego Schwartzman

Nadal, a nine-time champion in Rome, had never lost to the 15th-ranked Schwartzman in nine previous meetings. But Schwartzman dictated the baseline rallies and produced a series of drop-shot winners as Nadal uncharacteristically made unforced errors and struggled to get his first serve into play, as he played in his first tournament in seven months.

For two months during the lockdown, Nadal said, he didn’t touch a tennis racket.

“It’s a completely special year — an unpredictable year,” Nadal said. “At least I played three matches.’

While Nadal won his opening two matches this week in straight sets, his rustiness showed from the start against Schwartzman.

Nadal committed nearly twice as many unforced errors as Schwartzman, 30 to 17, and won only 29 of 63 points on his serve — resulting in five breaks.

“Losing that many serves, you can’t expect to win a match,” Nadal said. “So something that I have to fix. I know how to do it.”

Nadal, who chose not to play in the US Open because of travel concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, had not played a tournament since winning a title in Acapulco, Mexico, in February. He now has one week to regroup before he attempts to win a record-extending 13th French Open title. Roland Garros starts next weekend.

“I’m going to keep working and keep practicing with the right attitude and I’m going to try to give [myself] a chance to be ready,” Nadal said.

Schwartzman came up with a series of clutch shots, perhaps none better than during the second game of the second set when he won a 17-shot rally to save a break point by running down a drop shot and passing Nadal with a forehand that landed on the line.

“It was my best match ever,” Schwartzman said.

Garbine Muguruza Reaches First-Ever Australian Open Semifinals

Garbine Muguruzais back in a Grand Slamsemifinal…

The 26-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan tennis player and former world No. 1 defeated No. 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3 to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open for the first time in her career.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion, took a little more than 1 1/2 hours to eliminate Pavlyuchenkova, with both players struggling with their serves with the sun shining brightly at one end. 

It’s Muruguza’s first spot in a Grand Slamsemifinal since Roland Garrosin ’18.

After struggling for form following her 2017 Wimbledontriumph, Muguruza has looked like a player reborn at Melbourne Parksince reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez.

Last November, Muguruza climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and got away from it all. She didn’t want to dwell on two relatively barren seasons since her Wimbledon win in 2017.

Her time on the mountain was “definitely was a life-changing experience,” Murgurza said, although she couldn’t explain how because it’s too complicated in a tournament environment.

“But it definitely had an impact on me, not as a tennis player, but just in general,” she said. “Being through such a tough challenge, I think, yeah, did many things inside of me.”

She’ll next face Simona Halep, both have already won at Wimbledon and the French Openand have been ranked No. 1, and are bidding for their first Grand Slam title on a hard court.

Garbine Muguruza Defeats Maria Sharapova to Reach French Open Semifinals

Garbine Muguruza moved a step closer to regaining the French Open title by beating two-time winner Maria Sharapova in a one-sided quarterfinal.

The 24-year-old Spanish tennis player, the third seed at Roland Garros and a winner in Paris in 2016, dominated from the start and ended the Russian’s hopes with a 6-2 6-1 victory in 70 minutes.

Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion, has not dropped a set at the tournament.

She will play world number one Simona Halep in the last four after the Romanian beat German Angelique Kerber.

Both Muguruza and Halep, who is searching for her first Grand Slam title, could finish the tournament as the world number one.

“I was up against a great player so I had to make sure I brought my best tennis,” said Muguruza.

“I wasn’t thinking so much about the result. I was just thinking about not dropping my level, not giving her a single point, and I guess that helped my performance.”

Sharapova, back on the Paris clay after a two-year absence, admitted she had been outplayed but was pleased with her overall performance at the year’s second major.

“Coming into this part of the year, I was losing a few first-round matches, matches that I wanted to be winning,” she said.

“But to have had the victories that I have had, obviously things are moving a step in the right direction, but today was certainly not one of those steps.”

Juan Martin del Potro Back in the Quarterfinals at the French Open After Six Year Absence

Juan Martin del Potro is back in the final eight at Roland Garros

The 29-year-old Argentine tennis player, the tournament’s fifth seed, brushed aside John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the French Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 on Monday.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro produced an impressive display on Court Suzanne Lenglen, firing 25 winners and making just 14 unforced errors against the American ninth seed.

del Potro was knocked out in the third round at Roland Garros last year after missing the previous four tournaments in Paris through injury.

del Potro will next face third seed Marin Cilic in the last eight.

Rafael Nadal Notches His 900th Career Win at the French Open

It’s another French Open victory for Rafael Nadal, and added career milestones…

With a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) win on Monday against up-and-coming German player Maximilian Marterer, Nadal moved into the quarterfinals and above Jimmy Connors on the all-time list of match-winners at majors.

Rafael Nadal

Connors won 233. Nadal has 234.

Just Novak Djokovic, with 244 Grand Slamwins, and Roger Federer, with 332, are ahead of him.

But in his chase for a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros, the only numbers Nadal seems to be keeping close track of are those up on the scoreboard. It had, for example, seemingly escaped him that in beating Marterer, a 22-year-old with a promising game, Nadal also notched his 900th career win on tour.

Although such numbers might not be foremost in Nadal’s mind, they are gauges to the impressive longevity and winning consistency of the Spaniard who turned 32 on Sunday.

“I don’t feel myself old. But I am 32, and I am here around since 2003, so it’s a long way, a lot of years. I started very young,” he said. “Being honest, I am enjoying the day by day on the tour and I hope to keep doing this for a while.”

Nadal’s next opponent, Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, will be playing his first Roland Garrosquarterfinal. It will be Nadal’s 12th.

The only other player with that many in the professional era is Djokovic, who plays his 12th quarterfinal against Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

Diego Schwartzman Storms Back to Upset Kevin Anderson in the Fourth Round at the French Open

Diego Schwartzman has taken down a giant…

In a David and Goliath-like moment, the 25-year-old Argentine tennis player, nicknamed El Peque for being 5-foot-7, was able to turn the tables against 6-foot-8 Kevin Anderson at the French Open, climbing back for a 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (0), 6-2 victory in a fourth-round match at Roland Garros.

Diego Schwartzman

The match was slipping away from 11th-seeded Schwartzman quickly, with the sixth-seeded Anderson winning a staggering 76 percent of points on Schwartzman’s first serve in the opening set.

Continuing to pick on Schwartzman’s unimposing serve, Anderson broke for the sixth time to put himself up a break in the third set, and served for the match at 5-4. Schwartzman, previously 1-for-8 on break point opportunities in the match, clawed back and broke Anderson twice in a row to sneak away with the third set.

Anderson, who hit 19 aces to Schwartzman’s two, again served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set, only for Schwartzman to break him at love.

Schwartzman had lost both of his previous matches against Anderson and said he was not sure how he reversed this one.

“I am saying that and repeating it, because I really don’t know how I did,” he said.

From there, the momentum was his. Schwartzman took the fourth-set tiebreaker, 7-0, and comfortably won the fifth set, breaking Anderson in all four of his service games.

Schwartzman ultimately broke Anderson’s serve nine times, the most times Anderson had ever been broken in one match.

“When you’re not as strong or you’re not as tall as Anderson, you can still win the match,” Schwartzman said. “I think that people like me more, as well, for that, because they were supporting me. They wanted me to remain in the game. The fact that he was twice as tall as me was a reason for me to try to remain.”

Schwartzman’s next battle is against a different sort of tennis behemoth: the 10-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal.

“I know it’s his second home,” Schwartzman said of Nadal and this Grand Slam.