As was expected, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic fought like two lions in the Roland Garros semi-final in June. After four hours and 11 minutes, the Serb beat the king of clay 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 and advanced into the title, where he would face Stefanos Tsitsipas.
It was Nadal's third loss in Paris since 2005 and the first since the 2015 quarter-final when he fell to Djokovic in straight sets. Despite issues with his foot and evident fatigue, Rafa gave his best to stay competitive and challenge his most formidable rival on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
The Spaniard had a set point at 6-5 in the third set, wasting it and spraying some errors to fall behind and seal his fate, as Novak stood as the stronger and more determined player on the court. Like the last year's final, Rafa made a perfect start and opened a 5-0 advantage.
Still, Novak was there to fight this time, losing the opening set but regaining his strokes to grab the second and level the overall score after almost two hours. From 5-3 down in the third, Nadal returned to 5-5 and wasted a set point in the 12th game that proved crucial.
As was expected, Novak grabbed the tie break and never looked back, winning the final set 6-2 with three consecutive breaks to find himself in the 29th Major final.
Rafael Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic after four hours and 11 minutes at Roland Garros.
"It was not my best day, even though I gave my everything.
Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. I had a big chance in that third set, and there were some crazy points throughout the encounter. Well done to Novak, a great fight from him. I tried my best, despite fatigue. The conditions were a bit slower, and Novak dealt with them in a better way; that's why he deserves to win.
I had a big chance to take the third set, leading 6-5 and standing a point away from taking it on Novak's second serve. Anything could happen at that moment, and I lost the next point. Then I made a double fault and missed an easy volley.
These kinds of mistakes can happen, but you have to avoid them if you want to win. My positioning for the shots was not that effective tonight, and I could not push Novak away from his comfort zone," Rafael Nadal said.