Rafael Nadal Explains Why 2011 and 2020 French Open Were the Toughest Victories for Him

Published 12/24/2020, 7:04 AM EST
Rafael Nadal of Spain hugs the Musketeers’ Cup as he celebrates victory following the mens singles final against Dominic Thiem of Austria during day fifteen of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 10, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal probably has one of the greatest statistics at one particular event in sports. He has won at the Roland Garros a staggering 13 times out of 16 attempts. Players dream of winning even one slam while the Spaniard has won at one Slam tournament a record 13 times. 


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Out of the 20 majors to his name, 65% of them have been won on his favorite ‘clay courts’. Over the years, he has dominated events played on this surface. Although the outcome was similar, the mindset approaching the French Open in 2011 and 202 would have differed from his approach to his other victories.
PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 11: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning championship point during his Men’s Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros on October 11, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal: Conditions were adverse at the French Open this year


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Recently, Nadal reflected on the 2011 and 2020 seasons. As compared to the other years, the Spaniard found these ones to be particularly challenging. He explained, “2011 was very difficult after coming from a difficult year. And then I would say that the one with the most adverse conditions was this year 2020. I had only played one previous tournament on clay. The conditions in Paris were not positive, things turned out well, but playing cold for my body is difficult, then for my style of play, playing with so much cold makes my shots less effective.”

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During this year’s French Open, Rafa lifted the title for the 13th time in his career. He dismantled Novak Djokovic in the final, winning in straight sets. Nadal also pondered on why he has been such a brutal force at Roland Garros. The Spaniard said, “At Roland Garros, I play well because it is a very large court, where I control the angles very well, but to control the angles well you have to have a ball that responds to the racket. This year the ball changed and that together with the cold made it a ball that took less effect.”
Post the French Open, Nadal won his 1000th match on the ATP tour during the Rolex Paris Masters. He will next be seen at the Australian Open, from February onwards. 


Rohan Kollare

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Rohan Kollare is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. Rohan has a post-graduate diploma in Sports Management and a trophy cabinet adorned with accolades won in district and state-level tennis competitions. He has previously worked in Content Operations for Disney’s Hotstar for over a year, covering tennis and Formula One.


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