This year, Naomi Osaka had to fight back from a set down against an inspired Victoria Azarenka – and navigate a tricky decider which could have swung either way – on a virtually empty Arthur Ashe Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Naomi Osaka looked a little lost as Victoria Azarenka overwhelmed her in a fast start, hitting 13 unforced errors and struggling to cope with the Belarusian’s proactive play and controlled aggression.
Eventually, though, the mental resilience which the Japanese says she has developed over recent months came to the fore.
That resulted in a major momentum shift in Naomi Osaka’s favor as Victoria Azarenka threatened to move 3-0 ahead in the second set.
The former world No 1 maintained that level in the decider to earn a 4-1 lead, but was unable to convert one of three break points to move 5-1 ahead.
That might have proved costly when Victoria Azarenka immediately put the set back on serve, only for Naomi Osaka to battle back again by winning what proved to be the final two games.
Rafael Nadal won a record seventh French Open title after beating Novak Djokovic with 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5 in a rain-affected final.
Rafael Nadal, 26, resumed leading 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2, but his uncharacteristic wobble late on Sunday had fuelled Novak Djokovic’s belief.
The Spaniard broke back in the first game of the day however, and then piled pressure on an unsettled Novak Djokovic.
The Serb finally folded with a double fault to hand Rafael Nadal an 11th Grand Slam.
Having drawn level with Bjorn Borg on six Roland Garros titles last year, the victory gave Rafael Nadal sole ownership of the landmark, and he is likely to have plenty of opportunities to stretch further clear.
Rafael Nadal won a record seventh French Open title after beating Novak Djokovic with in a rain-affected final
The only three men to have more Grand Slam victories – Roger Federer with 16, Pete Sampras on 14 and Roy Emerson on 12 – are now in his sights.
The crowd had returned to Court Philippe Chatrier entertaining the possibility that they may witness a different piece of tennis history.
Novak Djokovic, aiming to become only the third man in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously, seemed to have the upper hand on his rival when Parisian drizzle had forced them off on Sunday.
Rafael Nadal led a precariously-poised contest 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2 overnight, but, having been broken early in the fourth, he had looked ill at ease on the court he has made his own.
The Spaniard had surrendered eight successive games and grew increasingly irritated by the wet conditions underfoot before tournament officials called an end to proceedings.
With the chance to reassess his position and resume in dry, if cloudy, conditions the world number two emerged reenergized.
Novak Djokovic’s hopes of becoming the first man to beat Rafael Nadal on clay after losing the opening two sets immediately dimmed as Nadal toppled his serve in the opening game.
Rafael Nadal’s body language had spoken volumes on Sunday and, after the Serb’s forehand down the line was snagged by the tape to bring up 2-2 , it was Novak Djokovic who allowed his frustration to show.
The world number one pounded his head with his racquet strings, but the brutal treatment he was receiving from the opposite end of the net proved harder to halt.
Twice Rafael Nadal held to love, while Novak Djokovic’s serve continued to look vulnerable.
Novak Djokovic’s resolve and fight had seem him haul back four match points to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earlier in the tournament, but he appeared drained as he gifted Rafael Nadal the championship without forcing him to play a return.
The Serb’s second serve was long to signal an end of three successive Grand Slam final wins over Rafael Nadal and continue his rival’s extraordinary record of just one defeat in the tournament since making his debut in 2005.