'Rafael Nadal was 5-0 up, but I believed in victory,' Novak Djokovic's coach recalls

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'Rafael Nadal was 5-0 up, but I believed in victory,' Novak Djokovic's coach recalls

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the rivals at the previous three Roland Garros. Nadal made a better start in all three encounters, although he failed to bring one of those home and celebrate the win. Novak and Rafa battled in the 2021 semi-final, and Novak earned a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 triumph in four hours and 11 minutes.

It was Nadal's third loss in Paris, and it came after being a set up, making Djokovic's success even more notable. After five straight losses to Nadal on the slowest surface, Djokovic was ready to make an extra step and beat the most formidable opponent, confident in his game and physical strength.

The Serb scored eight breaks and stood as the more determined player on the court with 50 winners and 37 unforced errors. Moreover, Djokovic pushed Nadal's backhand to the limits and reduced the rival's forehand to forge a massive advantage in the mid-range exchanges and bring the victory home after an epic battle.

Despite a great start, Nadal lost steam in the crucial moments, wasting his chances in the second set's closing stages and squandering a set point on the return at 6-5 in the third before losing the tie break, his seventh in a row against the top-10 players at Majors!

The Spaniard forged a 5-0 advantage in the opener and won it 6-3 despite some problems in the second part.

Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in four sets in Paris 2021.

Novak found his strokes in the meanwhile and won the second set to get back into contention.

From 5-3 down in the third set, Nadal climbed back to 5-5 and created a set point in the 12th game that could have been crucial. Novak saved it and gathered momentum ahead of the tie break, taking it 7-4 and never looking back.

Rafa lost the ground completely in the fourth and suffered three breaks in a row to hit the exit door and experience only the third Roland Garros loss. Novak's coach Goran Ivanisevic did not panic at 0-5 in the opener, not thinking about last year's final and a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 loss.

Djokovic turned the tables soon after that and controlled the scoreboard to topple a great rival and earn his most cherished victory in Paris. "I was pleased when I saw Rafa and Novak in the same half. Rafa had never lost in the Roland Garros final, and he played it 13 times.

It's a similar situation with Novak at the Australian Open. The match started similarly to the last year's one, but this time, Novak reset his game at 0-5 and almost returned to the set completely. I knew immediately it would be a different encounter," Goran Ivanisevic said.