For the second time in eight months, Rafael Nadal has welcomed his greatest rival into his Parisian den. at French Open Final last year Nadal destroyed Novak Djokovic in three brutal sets, but World No. 1 had no intention of letting history repeat itself.
After losing the first five matches, Djokovic stood up to the challenge entirely, and the result was one of the greatest victories of a career full of greatness.
“Definitely the best match I’ve played at Roland Garros for me, the first three games I’ve played in my entire career, given the quality of tennis, playing my biggest opponent on the court where he’s been a huge success,” Djokovic said. The atmosphere is all electric.” “Both players, a lot of support. Just awesome.”
He did what little Nadal did on Court Philippe Chatrier, match his form, equalize his desire, and then make him doubt in four hours and 11 minutes, winning 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5). ), 6-2 to reach sixth place French Open Final.
With his big win, Djokovic inflicted only his third career loss to Roland Garros over Nadal in 108 matches, and he will contend for his second French Open title as well as his 19th Grand Slam title, which would see him shine in one of Nadal’s and Roger Federer’s joint men’s record.
He will meet Stefanos Tsitsipas, who squandered a two-set lead against Alexander Zverev before showing the full measure of his mental fortitude by recovering from 0-40 behind at the start of the fifth set to narrowly reach his Grand Slam final. 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 win.
Tsitsipas barely stopped crying as he digested the feat of becoming the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final: “This win is the most important of my career so far,” he said.
Nadal arrived at the court in a fighting mood. He spent the first five matches of the match simply erasing his forehands, hitting them with an untouchable combination of speed, spin and depth, while his defense was impenetrable. Frustrated and superior, for the second year in a row Djokovic trailed 0-5.
But this time he faced the challenge. He finally started to grab Nadal’s serve and he pulled it to 3-5. Although Nadal did enough to serve the group, the momentum changed.
Throughout the second set, Djokovic struggled his way to the baseline and dictated an increasing number of points. His back hand was great and he pinned Nadal into his back corner while constantly tying the opposite baseline to his depth. By the seventh game of the second set, intensity stormed the ceiling but Djokovic held his serve in a brilliant 10-minute game for 5-2, eventually taking the second set.
With the start of the third set, Djokovic stayed on top of the baseline, dictating a lot of action. Pulling off the field with sinister angles and stifling the Spaniard with his serve, Nadal scored eight set break points in four different matches.
But every time Djokovic pulls away, Nadal pulls back. From 3-5, Nadal came back to make 6-5, saved several break points with powerful forehands and controlled the baseline in his favour.
By the time they reached the tiebreak, Nadal looked like he had the upper hand. Instead, Djokovic rose to the occasion by playing a delirious tiebreak. In the 5-4 tiebreak, Djokovic sent an ace on the T-end and a desperate attempt at Nadal’s shot sealed his fate in the set.
If there is any true measure of this rivalry, it may well be reflected in decisions made out of court: Djokovic went to the bathroom after the 93-minute tie-break set and the clock turned around 11pm, according to Marion Bartoli on ITV. French Prime Minister Jean Castex was watching at home. . He summoned and issued a pardon for Roland Garros, allowing fans at the venue to watch history unfold until the end.
Nadal opened the fourth set with a 2–0 lead, but Djokovic refused any comeback. Although Nadal fought to the end, Djokovic pulled it off and made sure the end was certain. He moved on to the final after winning six consecutive matches in the fourth set, and knocking out the King outright.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas, who has won more ATP matches than any other player this year and ranks himself as one of the best clay court players in the world, enjoyed an extraordinary victory over Zverev.
He said, “I’m proud of myself.” “I actually love what I do. I love to play in this stadium. I am grateful for every game I play.
“Obviously I’m just fortunate to have the opportunity to play against the best and test myself, which is something I’ve always dreamed of and hope one day happens. I’m able to be here and really do it. I love it.”