From living icons cementing their legendary status to unheralded newcomers orchestrating career-defining breakthroughs; Tennis Paradise has consistently created some of the sport’s most notable moments. Especially in recent years, the BNP Paribas Open has become an annual showcase for legacy bolstering victories as well as a launching pad for emerging stars to claim the biggest title of their young careers.
After two weeks of unforgettable tennis at Roland Garros, the 2020 French Open precisely followed this blueprint and adopted the BNP Paribas Open’s hallmark formula. On a chilly championship Sunday in Paris, transcendent tennis icon Rafael Nadal and relative unknown Iga Swiatek each emerged victorious with dominant straight-set triumphs. While both competitors faced stiff opposition in current ATP Tour World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and rising American phenom Sofia Kenin respectively, they were no match for the eventual champions.
For Nadal, the legendary Spaniard and 3-time BNP Paribas Open champion (2013, 2009, 2007), it was a no surprise to see him dominate the field once again at Roland Garros. Undoubtedly the greatest clay court player in the history of the sport, Nadal overpowered a bevy of worthy competition without dropping a single set in the tournament. Victories over the likes of Sebastian Korda, Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman set up the much-anticipated final between him and fellow multi-time Tennis Paradise champion Novak Djokovic (2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2008). While fewer than 1,000 spectators filled the stands due to ongoing coronavirus safety protocols, there was an undeniable tension in the air as the ATP Tour World No. 1 and No. 2 were set to face off in a major championship final.
While many fans surely expected a back-and-forth affair befitting the two best men’s tennis players in the world, Nadal quickly put an end to that expectation. His performance on Sunday was nothing short of flawless, dispatching Djokovic in eye-catching 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 fashion. While the 2020 trophy marked his 13th career French Open title, it’s another accolade that has tennis fans reigniting the “goat” debate. Nadal earned his 20th career Grand Slam title, tying Roger Federer‘s all-time men’s record. And while fans and media may never reach a consensus on the correct order for the two (not to mention Djokovic’s continuing opportunity to reach the same record), Nadal once again solidified his status as one of the sport’s most legendary all-time icons.
On the women’s side of the field, a different type of history-making title run thrilled tennis enthusiasts across the globe. 19-year-old Polish newcomer Iga Swiatek put together what can only be categorized as a stunning performance to become the 2020 French Open champion. Not only did her conquest in Paris mark her first career major championship, it was her first-ever career overall tournament title. And while Swiatek has amazingly never played in the main draw at the BNP Paribas Open, she is following in the footsteps of two other young women’s players who burst onto the scene with shocking title victories in Indian Wells. Just as Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu catapulted themselves into stardom in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Swiatek appears to be taking advantage of the same opportunity.
In becoming Poland’s first Grand Slam Champion, Swiatek didn’t just win, she utterly dominated some of the biggest names in women’s tennis. With victories over players such as Eugenie Bouchard, WTA World No. 2 Simona Halep, and World No. 4 Kenin, she never lost more than five games in a match and won 75% of the total games she played. Ranked World No. 54 coming into the Roland Garros main draw, Swiatek became the lowest-ranked French Open champion since the computer rankings were officially introduced in 1954. All of this is to say, it’s hard to overstate the magnitude of her shocking display of dominance at such a young age. As a result of her incredible performance, Swiatek rose 37 spots in the WTA rankings and currently sits at World No. 17. When she makes her way to the Coachella Valley this March, all eyes will be on the ascending 19-year-old star.
Before we know it, Nadal, Swiatek and more will be back in Tennis Paradise. Don’t miss your opportunity to witness the world-class players that annually descend upon the desert, as the action gets back underway at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 8-21, 2021.