Rafael Nadal won his 12th Roland Garros title . Now, with the ease that Nadal has been winning the French Open, we seem to take it for granted. The romance between Rafa and the Roland Garros is worthy of a blockbuster. Rafael Nadal’s passion for the trophy is unmatched. Dominic Thiem tried to spring in a surprise in the final by taking the second set. That was it for Nadal. In the next twelve games, he let Thiem win just two. As if to say, ‘How dare you try to come in between me and the Roland Garros trophy?’
With Nadal cruising to his 12th Roland Garros title, the sports fraternity has gone into a huddle. Is defeating Rafa at the Roland Garros one of the most challenging tests across all sports? Names of Mohammad Ali and Michael Jackson in their prime also pop up in such debates. But Rafa’s win-loss record of 93-2 at the Roland Garros certainly offers a slight advantage to him being the toughest competitor.
It was a roller coaster ride up till the Roland Garros. There was shock defeat in the hands of the Greek sensation, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in the Madrid Open. But the redemption wasn’t far away. Rafa met the world no. 1, Novak Djokovic, in the finals of the Italian Open. This was a curtain-raiser to Roland Garros and Rafa was back. He defeated Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1 and all the Rafa fans heaved a sigh of relief.
After winning 11 titles, an athlete tends to get complacent and over-confident. But seeing Nadal play, it seemed if he was going for his first one. The fire, the hunger, the urge to win the Slam was as new as it was back in 2005 when a 19-year-old Rafa won his first Roland Garros. It is no secret that when playing against Rafa, you don’t win a point, but you earn one. Rafael Nadal offers no freebies. Roger Federer found it the harder way. He met Rafael
Nadal in the semifinals of Roland Garros and was handed his worst loss at a Slam in 11 years. Rafael Nadal showed no mercy to the legend and bulldozed his way to the finals. A repeat of the 2018 French Open finals, odds were stacked heavily against Dominic Thiem. Improving his 2018 score tally, Dominic Thiem won one set this year. But when a Grand Slam final scoreline reads 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1, even that one set doesn’t seem like a consolation. Such is the caliber of Rafael Nadal. A true champion. A true legend.