Former Argentine tennis star Juan Martin del Potro thought Rafael Nadal played better than Novak Djokovic and added the Serb's mistakes in the key moments ultimately sealed his fate. On Tuesday night in Paris, record 13-time French Open champion Nadal handed a 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (4) loss to Djokovic to reach the semifinal at Roland Garros.
Djokovic had his chances in the fourth set as he was 5-2 up after the opening seven games. In the ninth game, Djokovic missed out on two set points on his serve. Nadal broke back Djokovic and eventually forced in a tie-break, in which he opened a 6-1 lead before realizing his fourth match point.
"Impressive Rafa, he played much better than Novak Djokovic, who made mistakes in key moments. Now looking for number 22," del Potro tweeted.
Nadal beats Djokovic for the 29th time
The 59th meeting between Nadal and Djokovic was a memorable one. Even though Nadal won, he still has a losing record versus Djokovic.
Djokovic now has 30 wins, while Nadal has 29. "Of course we have a lot of history together," Nadal said. "A lot of important moments playing against each other. That's the truth. In that case, [it] always is a special match, playing against Novak.
"Tonight [was] just a quarter-final match, not the final... But still a super classic match and in a big scenario. Between Novak, Roger [Federer], myself — we have an amazing story together facing each other in the most important matches for such a long time.
So that makes things more special and more emotional." Nadal is now two wins away from winning a record 22nd Grand Slam. In the Grand Slam semifinal, Nadal faces Alexander Zverev, who defeated Carlos Alcaraz to reach the semifinal. Should Nadal win the French Open, he would have 22 Grand Slams - two more than Djokovic and Roger Federer.