World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is the top favorite at the upcoming Wimbledon, seeking the title defense and his 20th Major crown. The Serb is yet to experience a defeat at Majors in 2021, winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros to move one title away from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
In Paris, Novak claimed the second title within five years, beating Nadal in the semis for his most excellent performance at the clay Major. Speaking about that win ahead of London, Novak described it as an unbelievable feeling after everything that Rafa has achieved in Paris over the years.
It was their 58th clash and the 30th triumph for Novak over his greatest rival, advancing into the sixth Roland Garros final where he would beat Stefanos Tsitsipas from two sets to love down. 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 push and beat the most formidable opponent. 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.
Novak Djokovic spoke about his win over Rafael Nadal ahead of Wimbledon.
Despite a great start, Nadal lost steam in the crucial moments, wasted his chances in the second set's closing stages and squandered 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 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 had he converted it.
Novak saved it and gathered momentum ahead of the tie break to win it 7-4, never looking back en route to the finish line. Rafa lost the ground completely in the fourth set and suffered three consecutive breaks to hit the exit door and experience only the third Roland Garros loss.
"It was unbelievable to beat Rafa at his tournament, where he has been a dominant figure throughout his career. I could have felt that the event was over at that moment, but it wasn't. I had to recover and step on the court against Stefanos 40 hours later. The way I won the title was memorable, and it has a double value. I'm super happy," Novak Djokovic said.