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Nadal defeats Djokovic to win French open

Rafael Nadal once again proved his supremacy on clay, defeating Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open final to earn his 13th career title at Roland Garros. 

The Spanish star stunned the No. 1 player in the world with a bagel in the first set and kept the momentum with a three-set triumph Sunday on Court Philippe-Chatrier. He now has an incredible 100-2 career record at this event and hasn’t lost in the last four years.

The victory also marked the 20th career Grand Slam victory for Nadal, matching Roger Federer for the men’s all-time record. Djokovic currently has 17 career major titles, but only one at the French Open. He was seeking to become the first player in open history to win each Grand Slam multiple times.

The two men started Sunday’s match with some incredible back-and-forth play, showcasing the type of ability we have come to expect from the veterans.

Despite the excellent rallies and amazing touch from both competitors, it was Nadal who continued to come away with the points. It led to a couple of early breaks and then eventually a shutout in the opening set.

Djokovic won only three first-serve points in the entire set, giving Nadal an enormous advantage in the match right out of the gate.

The second set was more of the same, with the No. 2 seed again winning the key points when it mattered. Eight of the first 10 games went to deuce but Nadal came away with seven victories in those games.

Nadal also avoided mistakes with just six unforced errors in the first two sets compared to 30 for Djokovic. 

Things were much more competitive in the third set with Djokovic lastly earning his first break, getting the limited crowd behind him after pulling even 3-3 in the set.

After a narrow break to go up 6-5 in the final set, the 34-year-old closed it out with his serve.

While Nadal was clearly better overall, the match came down to him winning the key points when it mattered. He saved four of his five break points on the day while converting seven of his 18 break opportunities the other way. Djokovic still leads Nadal in this rivalry with a 29-27 career record, although Nadal now has a 5-4 advantage in Grand Slam finals.

As two of the greatest of all time, we will undoubtedly see these two match up again but every event is important to define their legacies. Nadal got the upper hand this time around, showing his clay-court prowess should remain unquestioned.

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