Season Portrait: Rafael Nadal
Over the course of eight days, ATPTour.com is serving up a season snapshot of the eight players who qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals. The series is illustrated by intimate portraits shot by British photographer Simon Owen. Today, we examine Rafael Nadal's memorable year.
Nadal continued to rewrite the record books in 2020 when he captured a 13th Roland Garros title, a unique benchmark without rival in tennis history. Nadal's comprehensive dismissal in the final of his great rival Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 was his 100th match win on the Parisian terre battue. The victory also saw Nadal equal Roger Federer's record haul of 20 majors.
Nadal became just the fourth player in the Open Era to reach 1,000 tour-level match wins. He left Roland Garros with a tantalising 999 victories and was forced to wait almost a month before returning to the French capital to hit the milestone with an opening-round win at the Rolex Paris Masters. Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,242) and Ivan Lendl (1,068) are the other players with 1,000 Open Era match wins.
"Honestly, [the label of greatest ever] doesn’t matter to me much. I’m happy with my career. At the moment, it’s clear that I’m one of the two. We’ll see what happens in the next few years: what Djokovic does, what Federer does when he returns and what I keep doing. If all goes well, we’ll have time to analyse it when our careers are over."
After finishing in the Top 2 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for a record 12th time in 2020, Nadal will look to push back to No. 1 in 2021. Competition for top spot could be among an expanded field. Old rival Novak Djokovic will be the leading contender, but Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev finished 2020 strongly, allowing them to battle for No.1 next year if they have consistent success at the majors and Masters 1000s.
Tomorrow... Novak Djokovic
Photo: Simon Owen/Wonderhatch