Nadal wins epic four-set clash with Djokovic to enter French Open semi-finals, Latest Tennis News - The New Paper

Nadal wins epic four-set clash with Djokovic to enter French Open semi-finals

PARIS (AFP) - Rafael Nadal edged past old rival Novak Djokovic in a four-set classic early on Wednesday (June 1) to reach his 15th French Open semi-final.

The 13-time Roland Garros champion won the pair's 59th career meeting 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) after a four-hour-and-12-minute quarter-final on a raucous Court Philippe Chatrier.

Nadal sealed his eighth victory in 10 French Open matches against last year's winner Djokovic at 1:16am local time to set up a last-four clash with third seed Alexander Zverev, who earlier beat Carlos Alcaraz in another dramatic four-setter.

After his match, an emotional and drained Nadal said: "Good evening, I am very emotional, thank you, thank you everyone. It was incredible for me.

"It was so important for the crowd to be behind me. It was really special. It was a very tough match, Novak is one of the best players in history, and all the history we have.

"There is only one way to beat Novak and that is to play at your best. See you in two days, that's all I can say."

The 35-year-old has lost just three of his 113 matches on the Paris clay since his 2005 title-winning debut and trails Djokovic 30-29 in their career head-to-head.

The Spaniard, seeded fifth, remains on course for a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title after lifting this year’s Australian Open, which Djokovic missed after being deported from the country over his Covid vaccination status.

Djokovic overturned a double-break deficit to take an 88-minute second set and missed two set points when serving for the fourth to force a decider.

The world No. 1 will rue those missed chances while he waits until Wimbledon for his next opportunity to take his Slam tally to 21.

“Congratulations to Rafa, he was better in the important moments” said Djokovic.

“He showed why he was a great champion. Well done to him and his team, he deserves it.”

Nadal was a slight underdog heading into the match after being taken to five sets in the previous round by Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The colder, slower conditions of the night session were also expected to favour Djokovic.

But the ‘King of clay’ smashed 57 winners in a trademark performance to delight the crowd as he gained revenge for his semi-final loss to the same opponent 12 months ago.

Rafael Nadalnovak djokovicFRENCH OPEN (TENNIS)