Rafael Nadal routs Novak Djokovic in French Open final, ties Roger Federer’s Slam record


Rafael Nadal didn’t boast about arguably his greatest performance yet. In the minutes after the French Open men’s final, when, annually, the sports world is most focused on him, he spoke behind a pink face mask about the challenge the globe is facing.

“I want to send a message everyone around the world,” he said. “Just keep going, stay positive. .. We will go through this and we will win [against] the virus soon.”

Nadal also refused to take delight in tying Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles. He kept the discussion on one of those four major tournaments and what he called “a love story” with the city of Paris.

“It’s not the moment, honestly not for me, I don’t think today about the 20th of equal Roger on this great number,” Nadal, now 100-2 at the French Open, said on Court Philippe Chatrier. “Today is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent here the most important moments, or most of the most important moments of my tennis career, no doubt.”

Nadal authored one of those special moments Sunday, a few-would-have-predicted rout of Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to lift a record-extending 13th Coupe des Mousquetaires and draw level with Federer for the first time.

“I was completely overplayed by Rafa,” said the world No. 1 Djokovic, arguably the pre-tournament and pre-final favorite who suffered his first completed-match loss in 11 months. “He played a perfect match.”

In the most prolific rivalry in Open Era men’s tennis, Nadal held Djokovic to the fewest games won by either player in their best-of-five history. Until Djokovic tested him in the third set, Nadal was en route to the most lopsided Grand Slam men’s final in 43 years.

The match was reminiscent of the 2019 Australian Open final, when Djokovic shellacked Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Nadal referenced this on court Sunday, soon after match point.

“In Australia, he killed me a couple of times ago,” Nadal said. “Today was for me. That’s part of the game.”

MORE: All-time Grand Slam singles titles list

For Nadal, doubt is always part of the game. He had plenty of it at the start of the pandemic-postponed tournament two weeks ago.

In September in Rome, his first tournament in nearly seven months, Nadal suffered a rare straight-sets loss on clay, to Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

In his pre-French Open press conference, Nadal provided pessimism (not uncommon for him, even before this tournament).

He noted extreme weather conditions, temperatures in the 50s that he would say later in the tournament were too unsafe to be holding matches. And a different brand of tennis ball, one he said was too dangerous for use on clay, becoming so heavy that it could harm a player’s elbows and shoulders.

“Honestly, one month and a half ago, if you tell me you’re going to have this trophy with you again, I will say, this year will probably be too difficult,” Nadal said.

Yet Nadal marched into the final without dropping a set, including a semifinal grudge match with Schwartzman. He said his level of play would not be enough against Djokovic.

“I need to make a step forward,” Nadal said Friday.

Rafael Nadal's 20 Grand Slam singles titles
Rafael Nadal’s 20 Grand Slam singles titles. (Getty Images)

That happened quickly on a rainy Sunday under a closed Chatrier roof (another new feature this year that was supposed to hinder Nadal). The Spaniard hit 10 winners to two unforced errors in the opening set. It took 55 minutes for Djokovic to win his first game.

“He did surprise me,” Djokovic said. “The quality of tennis he was producing, the level. I mean, he’s phenomenal.”

Add it to Nadal’s greatest hits list, which also includes the 2008 French Open final (6-1, 6-3, 6-0 over Federer) and the 2017 French Open final (6-2, 6-3, 6-1 over Stan Wawrinka).

“I played at my highest level when I needed to play at my highest level,” Nadal said. “The personal satisfaction is big because under the circumstances that we played this Roland Garros, even if I played an amazing match this afternoon, the conditions are a little bit not the conditions that I will choose, never, to play an event like this.”

Forty-three minutes after match point, Federer, sidelined after two knee surgeries, shared his thoughts on social media. Nadal, 34, has never outwardly engaged in the trophy race with Djokovic (17 Slams at age 33) and Federer (39 years old). He reverted to a familiar refrain Sunday.

“I’m not going to be thinking all the time Novak have this one, Roger is winning the other one,” he said. “You can’t be always unhappy because your neighbor have a bigger house than you or a bigger boat or have a better phone. You have to live your personal life, no?”

It will still dominate the men’s tennis discussion going into the next major, the Australian Open in January. Djokovic has won that a male record eight times. The Serbian missed his chance over the last 35 days to draw level with Nadal.

At the U.S. Open, he shouldered the blame, defaulted in the fourth round for striking a ball in anger that hit a linesperson in the throat. Neither Nadal nor Federer entered the tournament.

In Paris, Nadal dictated Djokovic’s demise.

“It’s just one of these days where you have to just say, Chapeau, and well done,” said Djokovic, who has been working on his French.

For everything that’s gone wrong in 2020, the Grand Slam season ended with arguably the most beautiful scene in modern tennis: Nadal biting the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Chatrier.

“This court is the most important court in my tennis career, the court that I enjoyed more special moments,” Nadal said, “and today was one of these.”

MORE: Poland Garros! Swiatek wins bonkers French Open

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Faith Kipyegon smashes women’s 1500m world record in Florence


Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the women’s 1500m world record, clocking 3 minutes, 49.11 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday.

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, took 96 hundredths of a second off Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record from 2015. Kipyegon began the day as the second-fastest woman in history at 3:50.37.

“I didn’t expect to run a world record,” she said. “I was looking forward to run a world lead, which was 3:54.”

The 29-year-old was already the most decorated female miler in history, the only one with four global 1500m titles. Her Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021 were separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition (that included 12 months without running).

Kipyegon was the eighth of nine children growing on a farm in the Kenyan Rift Valley. She was a soccer player at age 14 when she lined up for a one-kilometer run in PE class, according to World Athletics.

“I won that race by 20 meters,” Kipyegon said, according to World Athletics in 2016. “It is only then I knew I could run fast and be a good athlete.”

In 2010, a barefooted Kipyegon placed fourth in the world cross country championships junior race as, at age 16, the youngest finisher in the top 21. The next year, she won it. The year after that, she made her Olympic debut at age 18. By 2015, Jenny Simpson, arguably the best American miler in history, had a nickname for her: “The Sniper,” for her ability to run people down in the final lap.

After the pacers dropped out, Kipyegon ran the last lap on Friday in 58.87 seconds.

Next year, Kipyegon can become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track race three times, joining Usain Bolt. She repeated after Friday’s world record that she may move up to the 5000m after the Paris Olympics en route to, eventually, the marathon.

“After Olympics, we will see what is possible,” she said.

Full meet results are here.

Also in Florence, world champion Fred Kerley extended a year-plus win streak in the men’s 100m, prevailing in 9.94 seconds over Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (10.04) and American Trayvon Bromell (10.09).

Dutchwoman Femke Bol won the 400m hurdles in 52.43 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded this early in a year. Bol, the Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist, is the world’s fastest this year by eight tenths of a second. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has yet to race this outdoor season and could bypass the 400m hurdles entirely for the flat 400m.

Erriyon Knighton, a 19-year-old American, took the 200m in 19.89 seconds to rank third in the world this year. Knighton may be the favorite at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships given Noah Lyles, who won the 2022 World title in an American record 19.31, has a bye into August’s worlds as defending champion.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 13.04 seconds. Holloway, the world’s fastest man this year at 13.01, outsprinted Devon Allen, the world’s fastest man in 2022, in two Diamond League head-to-heads this week.

Spain’s Mohamed Katir won the 5000m in 12:52.09, edging Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha by three hundredths. Woody Kincaid (12:54.40) and Joe Klecker (12:55.16) ran personal bests to move into Nos. 3 and 4 on the U.S. all-time list behind Grant Fisher and Bernard Lagat.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the discus in her first matchup with China’s Feng Bin since Feng won the world title last July. Allman, who has the world’s top nine throws this year, prevailed with a 65.96-meter toss, five centimeters farther than Feng.

Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won a pole vault that included the top five women from last August’s worlds. Moon cleared 4.71 meters and has the world’s top clearance this season of 4.81.

American JuVaughn Harrison earned his second Diamond League high jump win this season by clearing 2.32 meters, just as he did in Doha last month.

Italian Larissa Iapichino was the surprise long jump winner, going 6.79 meters. She beat a field that included Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, who was fifth. Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore, remains best in the world this year at 7.08 meters.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Paris next Friday, live on Peacock. McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to make her outdoor season debut in the flat 400m, an event she is also expected to contest at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. If McLaughlin-Levrone finishes in the top three at USATF Outdoors, she will choose either the 400m or the 400m hurdles to race at August’s world championships, her coach said last month.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw