Novak Djokovic after losing to Rafael Nadal: 'I thought I was back in the game'

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Novak Djokovic after losing to Rafael Nadal: 'I thought I was back in the game'

The defending champion Novak Djokovic failed to chase the third Roland Garros crown. The Serb suffered the quarter-final loss to Rafael Nadal 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 7-6 in four hours and 12 minutes to hit the exit door and lose the ATP throne.

Novak toppled Rafa in the last year's semi-final in Paris, but he could not repeat that level this week despite two good sets. Nadal had the upper hand in the crucial moments and went for the right shots when it mattered the most to score the 29th win over Djokovic.

Rafa was a more determined player on the court, firing almost 60 winners and keeping his focus in the challenging moments to avoid a decider. 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.

The Serb admitted he made a slow start in three out of four sets, which affected his game. Also, he stated he gave his everything in the fourth set when he was a point away from sending the clash into a decider. The Spaniard broke twice in the opener and grabbed it 6-2 in 50 minutes, going for the correct pattern and outplaying world no.

1. The second set went down to the wire and lasted for almost an hour and a half.

Novak Djokovic almost forced a decider against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

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 and extend the battle.

The Serb squandered two set points on serve 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 and seized the fourth match point at 6-4 with a backhand down the line winner that pushed him over the top.

"I made a comeback in the second set, and I thought I was back in the game. Rafa came out with a couple of brilliant games at the beginning of the third set and raised his game to another level. I had my chances in the fourth set, serving for it and creating set points.

I could have taken the match into a decider and made it more interesting. Rafa showed why he is such a great champion in those moments. He stayed mentally tough and finished the match the way he did. I congratulate him and his team; he deserved to win.

I gave my best, and I'm proud of how I fought in the fourth set. I did not use my chances, and I lost to a better player after over four hours," Novak Djokovic said.