9.46 pm: Rafael Nadal: “Again, I want to congratulate Novak and his team on a great tournament. I feel privileged to share this rivalry and era with you. You won the Australian Open, Cincinnati, Rome, you’ve had another great season so congrats to you. As I said earlier, in a way, this doesn’t feel like a happy occasion because of the suffering around the world at the moment. But I’m sure we’ll all get through this. I hope to return next year with the crowd back in this beautiful stadium.”
9.41 pm Novak Djokovic: “I want to congratulate Rafa and his team. Today you showed why you’re the King of Clay. I experienced it myself (laugh). I didn’t play my best but I was outplayed by a better player. This is a difficult time for the world but we have the opportunity to compete, so I’d like to thank the organisers. Thank you to the fans for all the support.”
9.36: Rafael Nadal lifts the French Open trophy for the 13th time! And the great man’s eyes get moist. This is a historic moment. What a player, what a champion.
9.31 pm: Rafael Nadal: “First of all, congrats to Novak. Sorry for today. He killed me in Australia some time ago, today was my day. We win some and lose some. All the best to you. Without a great team and family around me nothing would be possible, so thanks a lot to them. I want to send a message to everyone around the world: we our facing possibly the toughest time because of this virus, but we will all get out of this together, so let’s keep fighting. It’s been a tough year but winning here means everything to me. I honestly am not thinking about tying Roger Federer’s record. for me it’s about winning Roland Garros again, this tournament means everything to me. I want to thank everyone who has come out here today, all the organisers. This means a lot to me”
RAFAEL NADAL DEFEATS NOVAK DJOKOVIC 6-0, 6-2, 7-5
History has been made! Rafa has his 13th French Open title and his 20th Grand Slam title! He has tied Roger Federer for the all-time record in men’s singles. He has 100 match wins at Roland Garros now. He sinks to his knees and shares a warm embrace with Novak Djokovic at the net. The Spaniard was sensational in the 2 hr 48 min match. Take a bow, Nadal!
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 5-6 Nadal
NADAL BREAKS! Djokovic concedes the game with a double fault! Would you believe it?! It wasn’t called out but Rafa raised his hand, the umpire then came down and said the second serve had indeed landed out, and hawkeye confirmed it too. Nadal will now serve for the match! Can Djokovic fight back again? It’s now or never!
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 5-5 Nadal
Nadal holds! Djokovic, for the first time in this match, talks animatedly to his box after losing that game. He can’t believe the fine margins with which Rafa is winning points. Now, can Novak hold again. The set is hanging by a thread now!
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 5-4 Nadal
Novak hangs in there! Nadal takes it to deuce twice but Djokovic converts his second game point. He is just a game away from taking the third set. This has been a remarkable fightback from the world No 1. He has hustled and hustled and found a way to compete with a marauding Rafa. The tension on Chatrier is palpable right now!
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 4-4 Nadal
Nadal holds! Some heavy hitting from the Spaniard in that game! He seems to have woken up after that break. Djokovic is playing well, with great intensity, but the next service game will be crucial.
Nadal has a total of 13 unforced errors in the match so far (at 3-3 in the third) 7 of them are in this third set.
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 4-3 Nadal
WOW! What a period of play this is from Djokovic. He holds his serve to 15 to consolidate the break. The body language has changed, the mood at Chatrier has changed. Time to see if Rafa can respond. We did not see this coming!
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 3-3 Nadal
NOVAK DJOKOVIC BREAKS! He has done it! And there’s that loud roar from the world No 1! He gets his first break of serve in the match. Brilliant from Novak, he is not done yet. Converts his second break point with his classic backhand down the line winner. Are we going to see a turnaround? Or will Rafa do his thing again?
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 2-3 Nadal
NADAL BREAKS TO LOVE! What just happened there?! Novak was looking a lot more composed in this set but he simply blew it there. Is this the beginning of the end? Rafa looks pumped.
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 2-2 Nadal
Nadal holds! Better from Novak in that game, took it to 30-all. But Rafa with two outrageous forehand winners to stay on course.
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 2-1 Nadal
Djokovic holds! That was quite the escape for the world No 1. He was down a break point but won three points in a row to close it out. A couple of errors there from Rafa. Novak with a serve and volley in that game, he might want to use that more often. He isn’t using the drop shot as often as he did in his earlier matches. Hard to say why that is.
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 1-1 Nadal
Nadal holds! Djokovic started the game by winning the first point but Rafa then won three in a row. The Spaniard’s forehand down the line has been lethal so far. Djokovic will serve now, can he hold?
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6, 1-0 Nadal
Novak holds! A strong start to the third set for the Serb as he holds his serve to 15. Djokovic is absolutely crushing his groundstrokes but almost everything is coming back. Nadal is relentless, Djokovic will have to be too.
Djokovic 0-6, 2-6 Nadal
NADAL WINS THE SECOND SET! Nadal is in cruise control on court Philippe Chatrier. This is his home and he’s putting on a spectacle. But he still has a set to win. Novak Djokovic has to believe. He hasn’t played badly, he needs a moment of inspiration, something to help him raise his intensity. No one expected this scoreline, are there more surprises in store?
Djokovic 0-6, 2-5 Nadal
Djokivic holds to 15! He looked at the heavens with his arms in the air after winning a point during that game. Full marks to the world No 1 for giving it his all. But Rafa will now serve for the second set. He has lost just two games so far. Yes, that’s outrageous.
Djokovic 0-6, 1-5 Nadal
Nadal holds to love! This is just too much from Rafa now. He’s playing some otherworldly tennis. Two stunning forehand winners down the line from him in that game. Djokovic’s shoulders have dropped. He did not expect to receive this hiding.
Djokovic 0-6, 1-4 Nadal
NADAL BREAKS AGAIN! An absolutely phenomenal point in that game. Both players crushed it from the baseline, played a drop shot each but Rafa managed to get the winner at the end. They ran a combined 130 meters in that point! The second set seems done and dusted too. Novak doesn’t really have a strategy to trouble Nadal right now. Perhaps there is no strategy that can trouble the King of Clay.
Djokovic 0-6, 1-3 Nadal
Nadal consolidates the break! Djokovic did well to take it to deuce from 15-40 down but Rafa shut the door again. It’s interesting that Novak hasn’t had an emotional outburst yet. He’s usually quite animated on court but has held it all in today. Must surely not be comfortable being out there with Nadal in such a mood.
Djokovic 0-6, 1-2 Nadal
NADAL BREAKS! Djokovic looks rattled. This is relentless, brutal tennis from Rafa. He gets his first break of this set and fourth of the match. The world No 1 is running out of ideas. The drop shot, which he used wonderfully through the tournament, is not that accurate at the moment and his groundstrokes aren’t fetching winners. This is a key moment in this match. Novak has to strike back.
Djokovic 0-6, 1-1 Nadal
Nadal holds! Djokovic had a look in that game at 15-30 but Rafa won three points in a row to shut the door. Each point is a battle at the moment. Box office tennis!
Djokovic 0-6, 1-0 Nadal
DJOKOVIC FINALLY GETS ON THE BOARD! The world No 1 saves three break points to start the second set on the right note. He’s struggling to land his first serve and that’s hurting him. It’s forcing him to go for more during rallies and that’s leading to errors. But this hold of serve will surely boost his confidence. He needs to believe, no matter how difficult that is against Nadal on clay.
Djokovic 0-6 Nadal
NADAL WINS THE FIRST SET 6-0! Yes, you read that right. 6-0! This has been a sensational performance from him so far. Had it been any other opponent, Djokovic would’ve been well ahead on the scoreboard. The world No 1 has played at a really high level so far. But Rafa is just doing his thing, he’s dialed-in, he’s chasing everything down, and finding the lines with ridiculous accuracy. Can Djokovic turn this around? If there’s anyone who can, it’s him. It all comes down to the second set now. Novak HAS TO make a move.
Djokovic 0-5 Nadal
NADAL BREAKS, AGAIN! That’s three breaks of serve for the Spaniard! Djokovic was leading 40-0 in that game but Rafa simply wouldn’t relent. This is possibly the King of Clay at his best. Djokovic mixing things up, making his opponent run to each corner but the ball just keeps coming back. Will we see a bagel? NO ONE could’ve predicted this!
Djokovic 0-4 Nadal
RAFA SAVES THREE BREAK POINTS! What a game that was! This is simply sensational from both players. Incredible court coverage, variety and accuracy. That game lasted nearly 11 minutes! Novak is giving it his all but he doesn’t have anything to show for it yet. Interesting that the world No 1 is going all-out (not conserving energy) despite being two breaks down.
Djokovic 0-3 Nadal
NADAL BREAKS AGAIN! He gets to double break-point and Djokovic manages to save one after a ridiculous rally, but the Spaniard gets the job done off the next point to pull further away in this first set. It’s not like Djokovic is playing badly, but the King of Clay is just better at the moment.
Djokovic 0-2 Nadal
Nadal consolidates the break! It’s taken 15 minutes for the first two games! Both players with heavy, accurate groundstrokes but Nadal manages to convert after being taken to deuce. Neither player wants to give an inch. The first set, as always, is critical.
Djokovic 0-1 Nadal
NADAL BREAKS! Oh boy, a number of lengthy rallies in the first game of the match itself. Both players are dialed-in from the get-go. Djokovic using the drop shot accurately, as he has done throughout the tournament, but Rafa turning defence into attack like only he can. Djokovic had a game point but couldn’t convert. This is going to be a grueling battle!
6.40 pm: IT’S TIME! The pre-match warm-up is done and we’re ready for play. It’s Rafael Nadal, it’s Novak Djokovic, it’s the most prolific men’s tennis rivalry in history, and as the great Rob Koenig would say: “It’s tennis nearer the Gods!” HERE WE GO!
6.34 pm: The toss is done, the photographs have been clicked, the players are warming up now.
6.31 pm: The two legends are out on court Philippe Chatrier! Rafa leads the way. There’s a small crowd present but be rest assured, the atmosphere is going to be electric!
6.27 pm: Before the RG20 men’s final begins, read about the women’s champion and her underdog triumph story. Unseeded 19-year-old Iga Swiatek won her first-ever senior title, a Grand Slam without dropping a set!
Read: A Pole star is born: Iga Swiatek crushes the odds to emerge unexpected French Open champion
6.20 pm: We’re just ten minutes away from Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic taking the court for the French Open final. This is as good as it gets! Will Novak become the only man in the Open Era to win the Career Grand Slam twice? Or will Rafa tie Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles? It’s Nadal. It’s Djokovic. It’s history that’s on the line!
6.17 pm: Rafa has defeated Novak three times in the French Open final, in 2012, 2014 and 2015, here’s what he had to say heading into today’s match:
“Different circumstances, different kind of tournament and different situation, no? I can’t predict the future. The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. Without playing my best tennis, situation is very difficult.”
Nadal vs Djokovic head-to-head
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06.00 pm: Welcome to the live coverage of the French Open 2020 men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal. Just typing that out gave us goosebumps.
Djokovic and Rafael Nadal meet for the 56th time on Sunday in a Roland Garros final blockbuster with history on the line for both men.
World number one Djokovic is chasing an 18th Grand Slam title and a second French Open which would make him the first man in half a century to win all four Slams twice.
Defending champion Nadal, the world number two, can win a 13th Roland Garros and 20th major which would tie the all-time men’s record held by Roger Federer.
Victory on Sunday would also give the 34-year-old Spaniard a 100th match win in Paris against just two defeats in 15 years.
One of those losses came against Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals, the last time the pair clashed on the crushed red brick surface of Court Philippe Chatrier.
The Serb has won 37 matches in 2020 with his one defeat self-inflicted via his infamous default at the US Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who pushed Djokovic to five sets in a breathless semi-final, sees few flaws in the top seed’s game.
“He has reached almost perfection,” said the Greek.
The 22-year-old matched Djokovic when it came to all-out assault on Friday night but at the crunch moments, the Serbian wall stood firm as the world number one saved 11 of 15 break points he faced.
Djokovic, 33, has a 29-26 edge over Nadal in their long-running rivalry.
He has won 14 of their last 18 meetings and the last three at the Slams.
However, the pair’s most recent three matches on clay have all gone Nadal’s way with Djokovic’s last victory on the dirt coming in the Rome quarter-finals four years ago.
At the French Open, Nadal has a 6-1 advantage, including wins in the 2012 and 2014 final.
“This is the house of Rafa,” Djokovic had said, describing facing the Spaniard on clay as the sport’s “biggest challenge”.
(With AFP inputs)