As many times before, Novak Djokovic had two rivals challenging him in the Roland Garros quarter-final. Novak lost to Rafael Nadal and the crowd, who stood behind the Spaniard in the fourth set and carried him towards a comeback and triumph.
Spectators on Court Philippe-Chatrier mainly were neutral during the clash of the two legends in the opening three sets, supporting both rivals in their titanic battle. Giving his best to prolong the encounter, Novak opened a 5-2 gap in the fourth set and created two set points in game nine.
Carried by the frantic cheering from the stands, Rafa found an extra gear to save them, pull the break back and seal the deal in the tie break to emerge at the top and get the job done in four sets. After the match, Djokovic showed no gestures towards the crowd, packing his racquet and leaving Court Philippe-Chatrier mighty disappointed.
Novak Djokovic did not get the crowd's support vs. Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
Rafa ousted Novak 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, making a better start in three out of four sets and producing a masterclass comeback in the fourth to emerge at the top.
Nadal needed four hours and 12 minutes to beat his most formidable rival, and they could have hit a five-hour mark had Djokovic converted one of his two set points at 5-3 in the fourth. Rafa was determined to avenge the last year's Parisian loss, taming his strokes nicely and spreading Novak over the baseline.
Nadal took 43% of the return points and grabbed seven breaks to seal the deal in four sets and advance into the last four. Rafa wrapped up the opening set with a double break in 50 minutes. They pushed each other to the limits in set number two, and Djokovic claimed six of the last seven games for 6-4 in nearly 80 minutes.
Instead of building on that, Novak lost the ground again in set number three, losing it 6-2 and making things very tough for him ahead of the fourth. Djokovic rattled off four impressive holds, grabbed an early break to forge a 5-2 lead and moved closer to force a decider.
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 converted the fourth match point at 6-4 with a backhand down the line winner.
"I think the crowd contributed a lot to Rafa's turnaround in the fourth set. They were 99,9% by his side, lifting him in the crucial moments. They helped him find the energy and complete the turnaround," Novak Djokovic said.