Rafael Nadal proved why he is the best player in French Open ever by defeating long-time adversary Novak Djokovic in a late-night drama to advance to the men’s singles semi-finals.
Nadal, seeking his 14th championship, got out to a strong start and held off reigning champion Djokovic to win 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) at Roland Garros.
After more than four hours on the court, Nadal won at 1:15 a.m. local time.
On Friday, the 21-time Grand Slam winner will meet third seed Alexander Zverev. After surviving a comeback by teenage phenom Carlos Alcaraz earlier on Tuesday, Germany’s Zverev, 25, advanced to the semi-finals for the second year in a row.
Rafael Nadal Heads To The French Open Finals
Fifth seed triumphs Nadal avenged his semi-final loss to Djokovic last year and improved his Roland Garros clay record to 110 victories in 113 matches.
With Nadal winning their 59th match and closing the lead to 30-29 in the head-to-head, the pair’s rivalry is the longest lasting in men’s tennis.
This was a compelling, engrossing bout that included some brutal striking as well as human vulnerability. The story twists were numerous and unexpected, particularly Djokovic’s fading in the fourth set, which he had led 5-2.
Rafael Nadal may have succumbed to a lack of hard contests. After all, he had missed the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami, and had not completed a game longer than 3 sets since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in September.
The significance of Rafael Nadal’s 29th victory against Djokovic will be appreciated only if he goes on to win a 22nd Grand Slam championship. And don’t think for a second that it’s a formality now that Djokovic and Alcaraz are out of the running.
The 35-year-old has played for eight and a half hrs in his last two bouts and will appreciate the extra day off before the semi-final on Friday.