When Tommy Haas advised Rafael Nadal to play with a wooden spoon

Rafael Nadal has won 13 Roland Garros titles from 17 trips to Paris since 2005, scoring 105 victories from 108 encounters and setting many records that will never get broken. Nadal’s 13th Roland Garros crown came in October 2020, and many active and former players were joking about a way to end his dominance at the clay Major. Former world no. 2 Tommy Haas hit the practice court last January with a wooden spoon. He suggested that Rafa should replace his racquet with a similar “weapon” and try to win Roland Garros with it. Nadal made the Roland Garros debut in 2005 and claimed the title to enter the record books as the last teenager with a Major trophy. The Spaniard suffered only one loss in Paris between 2005-2014, dominating like no one before him at a single Major and returning to the winning course from 2017.

Rafael Nadal has won 13 Roland Garros titles in the past 17 years.

Rafa delivered four consecutive titles in Paris, and the last one from 2020 proved to be the hardest, as the Spaniard had to deal with challenging conditions in rainy and clod Paris. Heading to Roland Garros with only three matches in his legs since February, Rafa had to dig deep to beat seven rivals and join Roger Federer on 20 Major trophies. Nadal bested all opponents in straight sets and played well above the rest of the field to lift one of his most cherished titles in a career. Settling into an excellent rhythm right from the start, Rafa lost only 23 games in the opening four matches to sail into the quarters, crumbling the rivals on serve and return and gaining confidence.

The Spaniard had to give his best against the young Italian Jannik Sinner in the quarter-final, trailing in sets one and two before scoring a 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 triumph in just under three hours. Diego Schwartzman kept Nadal on the court for over three hours in the semis and had a chance in the third set before Rafa prevailed 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 for his 13th Roland Garros final. Facing Novak Djokovic in the title clash, Nadal saved his best tennis for the most formidable opponent and defeated him 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes. Rafa controlled the rallies and brought the victory home with a strong performance in the third set’s closing stages for a massive celebration of the 20th Major crown.