'Rafael Nadal brushed me off the court in 2020,' says Novak Djokovic


'Rafael Nadal brushed me off the court in 2020,' says Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met for the third straight year at Roland Garros. After the last year's defeat, Nadal bounced back and toppled Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in four hours and 12 minutes to advance into the 15th Roland Garros semi-final and dethrone world no.

1. Two great rivals played the night match on Court Philippe-Chatrier, and many believed it would suit Novak's game more. Despite not having the usual spin on faster and warmer clay, Nadal had the upper hand against his greatest opponent, firing almost 60 winners and taming his strokes nicely.

For some reason, Djokovic lacked his usual energy and desire, making a slow start in three out of four sets and squandering a massive advantage and two set points in the fourth. Asked about the circumstances, Novak said he knew the night sessions would not give him many benefits over Rafa, who brushed him off the court in similar conditions in the 2020 final match.

Novak Djokovic spoke about the 2020 Roland Garros final.

Nadal dominated Djokovic in October 2020 en route to his 13th Roland Garros crown, toppling a great rival 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes. It was Rafa's 100th Roland Garros triumph from 102 matches, storming over Novak in the opening two sets and sealing the deal in the closing stages of the third.

Suffering only eight breaks in seven matches, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits on the return and never losing a set. Rafa became the third-oldest champion in Paris, extending his dominance on the slowest surface and claiming the milestone 60th ATP title on clay.

Also, it was his 20th Major crown, joining Roger Federer at the top of the list for the first time. Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable and relaxed. The Serb did almost nothing on the return and had no idea how to outplay the Spaniard in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage.

Nadal delivered a bagel in the opener, like against Roger Federer in the 2008 final, and served well in set number two to mount pressure on Novak and break him twice for a 6-0, 6-2 advantage! Two great rivals stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks before Novak hit a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve.

Rafa made a comfortable hold in the next one to emerge at the top, celebrate the 20th Major and save the season. "I disagree that I benefit more from the night conditions when meeting Rafa. We played in similar conditions in 2020, and he brushed me off the court," Novak Djokovic said.

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic Roland Garros