Top Moments of 2020: Nadal's 20th Grand Slam record in subdued Paris

Top Moments of 2020: Nadal's 20th Grand Slam record in subdued Paris

Yet as somber as the moment was, it was also the season's most historic. The Spaniard tied with Roger Federer in what is one of the sport's landmark records.

2020 was a season like no other.?Click here to review?the top moments from the pandemic-ravaged year.


The sight was familiar, but the backdrop was not. Rafael Nadal lifted his arms and sank to his knees as he won this year's Roland Garros, just like he has done 12 times before in his career. He dominated the field before defeating frequent rival Novak Djokovic in straight sets to take the title.

But this was not like all those other times. It took place in the evening, contested under the lights newly installed on Court Philippe Chatrier. It was in the fall, chilly and cold upon being postponed by four months due to?the pandemic. It happened in front of just a smattering of spectators, just 1,000 fans allowed into a 15,000-seat stadium.

Even the photos from the trophy presentation, where Nadal's half-obscured face prevented him from taking his traditional bite of the silverware, reflect that it was all far from a regular event.

Yet as subdued as the moment was, it was also the season's most historic. This was Nadal's 20th Grand Slam title, tying him with Roger Federer in what is one of the sport's landmark records. In normal circumstances, it would have received far more fanfare.

But it had anyway been a muted tournament. Restrictions on gatherings kept increasing in the run-up to the event, depriving it of the energy of the discerning Parisian crowds, and almost derailing the competition altogether—saved by a government clarification the day?before the start. Arguments about positive?coronavirus?tests and forced withdrawals, not to mention complaints about balls and slow courts, erupted during qualifying and the first few rounds.?


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And even as the tournament went on, the city around it was slowly shutting down, with bars and restaurants vacated to combat rising cases. "

The feeling is more sad than usual," Nadal had acknowledged. "Maybe that's what it needs to feel like. It needs to be sad, so many people in the world are suffering."

And maybe it is actually appropriate that Nadal's record--tying triumph came in this event, in this way. In his entire career, the Spaniard has not sought to play up his position or revel in his achievement. Instead, he has concentrated on unrelenting commitment and qualities described in his?inimitable style?as "humble," "with illusion," and of course, the willingness "to suffer" on court—they were all the more needed at this event, and it was all the more fitting that he was its champion.

"I played at my highest level when I needed to play at my highest level, so something I am very proud of," he said. "The personal satisfaction is big because [of] the circumstances that we played this Roland Garros, the conditions are a little bit not the conditions that I will choose to play an event like this."

Nadal not only reached another milestone in Paris, he showed?why he's won all he has.

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