Immense. The sun had set for a long time on Roland-Garros but Rafael Nadal, if he bowed his spine, did not give in to Novak Djokovic who had beaten him in the semi-finals a year ago. For this 59th duel, the Spaniard won in a fight of titans after 4h16 of superhuman effort (6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6). Led by a break in the fourth round, the Taurus of Manacor was transported by the public of Philippe-Chatrier to seek his qualification in the last four to face Alexander Zverev there.
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AN HOUR AGO
Since the beginning of the tournament, it was the expected meeting of all. Djokovic-Nadal in the quarter, a kind of final before the hour for the purists. And it got all the more serious when Carlos Alcaraz was ejected from the tournament to everyone’s surprise at the start of the evening. Finally, it was in the middle of the Parisian night that Nadal ended up reigning against the world number one and defending champion at Roland Garros.
In Nadal the first battle
The duel was immense, Djokovic hot on Nadal in terms of Grand Slams won in their respective careers, and he delivered on all his promises. Faced with an opponent without a single set conceded since the start of the tournament, the Iberian broke free from the start of the match, not hesitating to play by advancing and shortening the exchanges. On the other side of the court, Djoko was unable to resist the adverse impact. Broken after a long first game of 10 minutes (!), Djokovic then conceded a double break at 3-1 against him. In 59 minutes, the number one seed lost a first battle (6-2), but not yet the war.
If Djokovic holds 20 Grand Slam tournaments to his credit and beat Nadal in the previous edition in four sets, it is not due to chance. As a great champion, Djokovic reacted as he should. Broken at the start of the second set then double broken in stride, the Djoker transformed during the second set to go from 0-3 to 4-3, returning to the game like a cannonball. Monstrous on his forehand, Djokovic managed to win the second set with a bewildering length (6-4 in 1h24!) to equalize at one set everywhere.
A fabulous tie-break from Nadal to finish
As many people could think from the memory of the previous confrontation in 2021 at Porte d’Auteuil, the hardest part was perhaps already done. But Rafael Nadal is a huge champion. In Paris, he is also considered the master of the place regardless of his opponent. So ? So Nadal won in a crazy atmosphere, concluding the third set in a brilliant way by copying and pasting the first set (6-2), then concluding the match by taking Djokovic in a decisive game where the Majorcan n never seemed to worry despite three missed match points (7-6).
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Opposite, Djokovic probably lost the thread when Nadal broke at 5-4, causing madness on center court as the Serb served to win the set. In two days, Nadal will turn 36 and play his 37th career Grand Slam semi-final. But how far will he be able to go?
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