Novak Djokovic was a player to beat at Majors this year, winning 27 out of 28 matches and barely missing a calendar Grand Slam. In June, the Serb claimed his second Roland Garros crown, ousting Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas for his 19th Major title.
After a slow start of the clay season, Novak had found his form in Rome and Belgrade and gathered a boost ahead of Paris, where he played on a high level to reach the semis and set the clash against Nadal. Novak lost to Rafa in the Rome final but was confident about his chances in Paris, saying he would give his best to topple his greatest rival and advance into the final.
Last October, Novak claimed only seven games against Rafa in the Roland Garros title clash, suffering one of his most severe losses at Majors and looking eager to change that and score his second triumph over the Spaniard at the clay Major.
Nadal had won 105 out of 107 matches in Paris before the semis, seeking the 14th title and the 21st Major crown to put him above Roger Federer. Novak was confident before the most formidable test on Rafa's favorite court and surface, feeling good about his game and chances to beat the Spaniard in Paris for the first time in six years.
As we all know, Djokovic proved that on the court and toppled Nadal in grueling four sets to celebrate the 30th win over his great opponent and set Stefanos Tsitsipas clash.
Novak Djokovic was confident about his chances of beating Rafael Nadal in Paris.
"It's the anticipated semi-final; many people have talked about this match since the draw came out, and here we are.
We have had great battles on this court over the years. Last year, he was the dominant figure in the final. Nonetheless, the conditions will be different on Friday. I hope to reach a high level right from the start and avoid the outcome of the last year's opening two sets.
The level of tennis that I have shown in the previous three or four weeks on clay in Rome, Belgrade and here in Paris gives me good feelings for this match. I feel confident about beating Rafa; otherwise, I would not be here.
It will be a great battle. Playing Rafael Nadal on Court Philippe-Chatrier is the greatest challenge you can have, knowing his record here. There is nothing more remarkable in the latter stages of a Major, and it brings extra tension and expectation.
The vibrations are different when you walk onto the court against Rafa; this is why our rivalry is historic. I have been privileged many times to have a chance to compete against him, and I would probably choose Rafa as my biggest rival. Matches against him are like no others," Novak Djokovic said.