Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met for the 58th time in the Roland Garros semi-final. Two great champions turned it into a memorable one, with Djokovic prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 in four hours and 11 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier for his sixth title match in Paris.
After five straight losses to Nadal on the slowest surface, Djokovic was ready to make an extra step and beat the most significant rival for the second time in Paris after 2015, confident in his abilities ahead of the clash.
The Serb grabbed eight breaks (Nadal lost serve that many times in the entire Roland Garros campaign in 2020) 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 tamed the rival's forehand to forge a massive advantage in the mid-range exchanges and bring the victory home after an epic battle.
Rafael Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros in four sets.
Despite a great start and a 5-0 lead in the opener, Nadal lost steam in the crucial moments and wasted his chances in the closing stages of the second set.
The 13-time winner squandered a set point at 6-5 in the third before losing the tie break, his seventh in a row against the top-10 players at Majors! Rafa stood no chance in the fourth set following a foot injury, losing serve thrice in a row to hand the victory to Djokovic.
The Spaniard praised the Serb and his performance, saying that Novak emerged as a deserved winner. 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, winning it 7-4 and never looking back. "I have to give credit to Novak. I won many times here, but I could not today; that's reality. I can play better tennis, but there are no excuses.
The conditions were a bit slower, and Novak dealt with them in a better way; that's why he deserves to win. The crowd was amazing. I was super tired at some moments, and they were giving me the energy to keep fighting. It's super emotional for me to feel the love of the people in the most important court of my tennis career, without a doubt. So thanks a lot to them," Rafael Nadal said.