Paris, June 1 (BNA): Talks about the end of Rafael Nadal’s reign proved premature once again as the clay court king continued his path to winning his 22nd men’s Grand Slam title by defeating archrival Novak Djokovic 6-2 4-6 6 -2 7-6 (4) in the French Open quarter-final match.
The 13-times champion Roland Garros, who was defeated by the world number one in the semi-finals here last year, arrived in Paris with two injuries that hampered his preparations, Reuters reported.
Having already survived a five-set thriller against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the previous round, the Spaniard, who has lost only three times at the French Open since his first campaign in 2005, knows every inch of the massive playing field pushed by Philippe Chatrier and Djokovic. remind.
The Serbian is still stuck in 20 Grand Slam titles after local authorities banned him from the Australian Open for refusing to get a vaccine against COVID-19 – a major that Nadal won.
On the day teenage Carlos Alcaraz, widely told as his successor, was eliminated, Nadal threw punches and defending champion Djokovic was on the ropes in a high-octane start under the lights.
Djokovic struggled in the 88-minute second set, but the 35-year-old Nadal, backed by the partisan crowd, found the resources to finish in four sets despite suffering a break in the fourth set and set up a meeting with the third German. seed Alexander Zverev for a place in the final on Sunday.
Zverev beat Alcaraz in four sets earlier.
“It’s a very emotional moment for me,” Nadal said on court afterwards. “Thank you everyone. It’s unbelievable, the support I get from you. Everyone knows how important it is to play here. It’s the most important tournament of my career.” Pull the rope for four hours and 12 minutes.
“A very difficult match. Djokovic is one of the best players in history. Playing against him is always a big challenge. There is only one way to play against him – at your best level from the first point to the last.
“Today was a magical night for me. An unexpected level from me.”
The 10-minute opener, which Nadal won on Djokovic’s serve, set the tone for the two giants’ confrontation.
“Rafa, Rafa!” The crowd cheered.
He broke for the second time with a trademark forehand on the line before wrapping up the first set on serve when Djokovic made his ninth smooth foul.
The Serbian fell 3-0 in the second half, but a poorly executed shot from Nadal allowed him to fall back.
A smile appeared on Djokovic’s face. In a sixth match that lasted 18 minutes, Djokovic broke again on his fifth attempt when a backhand passed to Nadal.
He faced a break point in the next match but Nadal was playing too short and the Serb hit his fourth straight storm in a stunning turnaround.
Nadal just managed to hold out 4-4 but broke his serve at 5-4 as Djokovic tied the match.
However, Mallorcan started the third set in a similar fashion to the first, taking a 4-1 lead and wrapping it up on another involuntary foul from Djokovic.
In a swing competition, Djokovic regained the upper hand to open a 3-0 lead in the fourth set but Nadal did not enter the fifth set, breaking back 4-5 before imposing a tiebreak that gave his opponent nothing. Coincidence.