Last Friday, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal met for the 58th time in the Roland Garros semi-final. For the first time in six years, the Serb ousted the Spaniard in Paris, producing Nadal's third loss at the beloved event and advancing into the sixth final in the French capital.
Djokovic and Nadal stayed on Court Philippe-Chatrier for four hours and 11 minutes, pushing each other to the limits before the Serb prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 to remain on the title course and dethrone the king of clay.
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 to match Nadal's service games lost in the entire 2020 campaign in Paris 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.
From 5-0 down in the opener, Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in four sets in Paris.
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 didn't panic at 0-5 in the opener, not even thinking about the last year's final that his pupil lost 6-0, 6-2, 7-5!
As it turned out, 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 won 13 times in Paris.
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. So I knew immediately it would be a different encounter," Goran Ivanisevic said.
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