Rafael Nadal and Novak Djoković spent four hours and 12 minutes in Philippe Chatrier’s court. After a four-set match, which ended at 1:15 a.m., the Spaniard defeated his great rival and advanced to the Roland Garros 2022 semi-finals.
PAP / EPA / MOHAMMED BADRA / In the photo: Rafael Nadal
The 59th clash of the giants did not disappoint tennis fans, but it caused incredible emotions. The men started the game on Tuesday and finished on Wednesday. No duel in Paris has been settled so late. The meeting could have lasted longer, but the defending champion Novak Djoković did not take the opportunity to close the fourth set. In the end, Rafael Nadal won 6:2, 4:6, 6:2, 7:6(4) and plays in the semifinals of the French International Championship.
Good start Nadal
The beginning of the encounter was for Nadal. The ATP ranking leader did not fully showcase his skills, and after a few failed plays, he lost his serve in the first game. It was the Spaniard who moved better on the field and played rallies. The Mallorca player also made twice as many balls in the first set as he made unforced mistakes. In addition, he managed to defend himself in a threatening situation that arose in the fourth game. Djokovic couldn’t make up for his breakout, so Nadal stepped in. In the fifth game he got a breakpoint and with the winning forehand he came 4:1. The second breakthrough determined the fate of the premiere edition. Both gentlemen probably won their passes and in the eighth game the Spaniard closed the game with the first setball.
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Great emotions were present in the second part of the duel. He continued to pressure Djokovic from the first game. The fans witnessed longer and interesting exchanges. “Nole” saved six break points, but for the seventh time Rafa was successful in the net. After a while, the 21-time Grand Slam champion confidently kept his entry and came in at 2:0. Now he was attacking again on the return, working out a breaking point. Then there was an excellent exchange, which ended the “king of brick meal” with an answer to the opponent’s shortcut.
Renovation in the second set
Djoković lost 3-0 with two breakouts, but he did something incredible. He entered the battle to make up for the losses and after an incredible battle he reached his goal. The Serb clearly improved on the return. When his backhand started to function, the Spaniard soon ran into trouble. Already in the fourth game, the number one in the world ranking broke once. Then there was a great 20 minute sixth game where Nadal made some simple mistakes and lost his pass again.
The battle in the second set flared up again. At the age of 3, Djoković had a minor crisis when he gave his rival a breaking point. However, he survived with a beautiful action, serve and volley. The Serb won the fourth game in a row and took the lead. Now Nadal was under pressure. The Spaniard was able to equalize for 4, but the opponent did not give up. In the 10th game, Djoković launched a return and after an error by his opponent, he got the set ball. He was unable to take advantage of that, but on the second setball, the tennis player from Manacor broke the forehand and the scoreboard was 1 in sets.
Despite the great ending of the second episode, Djoković did not follow the blow in the third set. The situation with the opening party repeated itself. The ATP ranking leader made more and more mistakes (statisticians counted him 16 mistakes), which cost him the loss of the website. The first break was already in the game that opened the set. Then “Nole” forfeited a chance to get back into the game, and then Rafa scored a break at 4-1. The set was settled by the second breakout. The following games were won by passers-by, with the Spaniard leading the game 2-1.
Missed opportunity for Djokovic
A failure in the previous part of the match encouraged Djoković to play better in the fourth set. The Serb played more aggressively and got more balls. This allowed him to work out a breakpoint in the second game. Then followed a longer swap that caused Nadal to break the hash. Only the Belgrade tennis player had the breakthrough, who immediately won the service 3-0. Then it was 5:2 for the world’s first rocket and then the stairs started.
At 5-3, Djoković ran into problems as he served to win the set. He couldn’t use two sets of balls because Nadal was pushing hard. In a state of equilibrium there was a battle for every point. Finally, the Spaniard made a break point and after a short exchange scored a return break with the winning forehand. After switching sides, Rafa immediately brought the set to 5. Then they both looked closely at the pass and therefore the tiebreak was decisive. In this match, Nadal played brilliantly. He soon developed five match balls. The Serb defended three, but the Spaniard was already successful in the fourth.
He still won the fight from four sets and improved the match balance against Djokovic to 29-30. The game was of a high level, although the Serb closed it “in the red”. He had 48 winning strokes and 53 unforced errors on Tuesday. The Spaniard finished 57 balls and made 43 errors. In addition, he scored seven breaks, three more than his big rival.
The victorious Nadal advanced to the semi-finals of Roland Garros for the 15th time in his career and remains in contention for the 14th title over the meal in Paris. It is also his 37th Grand Slam semifinal. Now he has two days to prepare for the next match. His rival on Friday is German Alexander Zverev, who defeated sensational Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in four sets on Tuesday (more here).
Roland Garros, Paris (France)
Grand Slam, clay, prize pool of EUR 43.6 million
tuesday 31 may
Rafael Nadal (Spain, 5) bt Novak Djoković (Serbia, 1) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4)
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