Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of Roland Garros gave a wonderful performance that stretched for more than four hours. The victory with a score of 3: 6, 6: 3, 7: 6 (7: 4), 6: 2 went to Djokovic. This is only the second time that the Serb managed to beat Nadal at Roland Garros. In the final, on Sunday, the Serbian athlete will face Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was stronger than Alexander Zverev.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal previously crossed 57 times on the court. That is, so often that their meetings, it would seem, should have long ago turned into something routine, causing the public, albeit consistently high, but not in any way rush demand. In fact, every meeting between Serbian and Spanish tennis players turns into an event. The one that took place on Friday in the semi-finals of Roland Garros was no exception.
Pre-match predictions, when it comes to the confrontation of equal rivals, is, by and large, meaningless. Obviously, the probability of guessing is usually less than 50%. And here it was enough to look at the statistics of personal meetings between Djokovic and Nadal. The Serb was leading with a score of 29:28, which in no way testifies to his real superiority. However, if we take the statistics of the meetings between the Serb and the Spaniard at Roland Garros, for Djokovic, a more than alarming situation emerged. Of the eight matches played in the main clay tournament against Nadal (the Spaniard, recall, 13 Roland Garros champion titles), Djokovic won only one. And it was already six years ago.
So the one who decided to bet a round sum on Nadal’s victory this time, could probably think that he had nothing to worry about. And after Nadal immediately won five games in a row, the odds for the Spaniard’s victory clearly rushed into the non-profit zone. In fact, everything was just beginning. Djokovic, of course, did not save the first set. There is hardly a tennis player in the world who can win back a deficit of five games from Nadal. But the Serb already in the second game showed that in his arsenal there are ways to surprise the opponent. An opponent who played the way he always plays on clay. Nadal’s tennis on this surface is so perfect that it is even difficult to imagine that he could have come up with something like this in order to amaze the opponent and the audience with something new. Not.
Everything was old, proven, powerful. And yet, Djokovic was better. He surprisingly accurately determined the moments in which it is possible and necessary to put pressure on the opponent.
And he, straying from the usual rhythm, from this tireless throwing from corner to corner, stumbled. And often at their own pitch. As a result, the second set remained for Djokovic. But the main thing is that he took the third batch.
The third set became the key one in this confrontation. Something like a general battle in a war that has been dragging on for many years. One in which the stakes are so high that failure simply robs all the resources to continue to resist. The set lasted over an hour and a half. The opponents had consistently sagging games on their own serves (Djokovic played six break points out of eight – Nadal four out of six), but they clung to the game, realizing that there was nowhere to retreat. And at the same time, along the way, they built masterpieces from the heels of rallies. And, of course, such a game, at least for greater drama, had to reach a tie-break. It was on it that Nadal wavered and gave the set.
At that moment it might have seemed that nothing terrible had happened for the Spaniard. Moreover, he began the fourth set with the fact that he took the opponent’s serve and soon led it 2: 0. But this was the last positive moment in the match for Nadal. It seemed that he simply didn’t have the strength to fight the one who had caught the courage, and who had begun to serve somehow lethally by Djokovic (then the Serb will saythat it was his best match of all his performances in Paris). As a result, the Serb gave a streak of six games won in a row and reached the final of Roland Garros. In it, Djokovic, on whose account so far 18 victories in Grand Slam tournaments (a record – 20 titles each – shared by Nadal and Roger Federer), will be opposed by Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece), who in his semifinals was stronger than the representative of Germany Alexander Zverev – 6: 3 , 6: 3, 4: 6, 4: 6, 6: 3.