In the 59th clash of titans, Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros quarter-final on Tuesday night. Rafa scored a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 triumph in four hours and 12 minutes and advanced into his 15th Roland Garros semi-final from 18 trips to Paris.
Unlike last year's semi-final, Nadal had the edge over Djokovic, playing well in the crucial moments and delivering the right shots when it mattered the most to emerge at the top. Rafa had to dig deep to beat Novak for the 20th time on clay, keeping the second serve under control and firing 57 winners and 43 unforced errors.
Nadal usually made the first strike in the rally, spreading Djokovic over the baseline and throwing everything he had in his arsenal at him. The Spaniard saved eight out of 12 break chances and turned 43% of the return points into seven breaks from 17 opportunities.
Novak had a massive chance to force a decider, playing well in the fourth set's early stages and building a 5-2 advantage. He squandered two set points on serve in the ninth game and lost the ground in the tie break to finish his campaign in the quarter-final and lose the ATP throne in a week or two.
Nadal was off to a better start in three out of four sets, gaining early momentum and doing everything right on the court to topple the most significant rival and remain on the title course. The Spaniard broke twice in the opener and grabbed it 6-2 in 50 minutes.
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in four sets at Roland Garros.
The second set went down to the wire, lasting for almost an hour and a half and seeing a massive comeback. Djokovic trailed 3-0 before taking six of the next seven games for 6-4 and an enormous boost.
Nadal made a fresh start in the third set and claimed it 6-2 to preserve energy ahead of the fourth. Novak rattled off four impressive holds and grabbed an early break to open a 5-2 gap, looking good to force a decider. The Serb squandered two set points at 5-3 and lost steam and energy.
Rafa broke back with a forehand crosscourt winner, and they both served well in the remaining three games to introduce a tie break. Nadal built a 6-1 advantage after a loose drop shot from his opponent and seized the fourth match point at 6-4 with a backhand down the line winner that pushed him over the top.
"Congratulations to Rafa; he was a better player in crucial moments. I did not make a great start in three sets, and he did. I gained some momentum in the second set, but Rafa was able to take his game to another level in the early stages and later in the fourth," Novak Djokovic said.