The moment has snuck up on us, at a tennis tournament the 12-time champion has called too cold to play, on a court where little seems to be the same aside from the color and the presence of Rafael Nadal on the final weekend looking to make history.
At a most unusual French Open, we are finally able to confront the storyline we’ve been expecting for a couple years now: Can Nadal tie Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles?
For whatever reason, that hasn’t really been the preeminent storyline at Roland Garros this year. It’s been the wet Parisian weather, the heavier conditions that seem foreign to players and the strange vibe of playing night matches at a tournament that has only been played in the daytime in previous years. Of course, it has also been COVID-19 and the seemingly lax protocols around the tournament where a limited number of fans are in the stands and players are not really in any kind of bubble as they were at the U.S. Open.
With all of that happening at once, it’s no surprise the historic stakes of this tournament for Nadal have been reduced to background noise. But with his…