'Rafael Nadal played very well against Novak Djokovic,' says former star
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 9043
Rafael Nadal claimed the 14th Roland Garros title after beating four top-10 rivals in a row. In the quarter-final, Nadal passed the most difficult obstacle and dethroned world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in four challenging sets. Rafa beat Novak 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in four hours and 12 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier and ousted the Serb for the 29th time in 59 encounters.
Ion Tiriac praised Nadal's performance, saying he played on a high level and emerged as a deserved winner. Despite the cold, heavy and slow conditions on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Nadal produced his A-game to beat Djokovic after another marathon.
Novak recovered in the second set and threw everything he had at Rafa in the fourth, only to miss set points and drop a tie break to hit the exit door. Rafa made the difference with his second serve, keeping it safe and overpowering Novak in the pivotal moments to enter the last four.
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros quarter-final.
Nadal saved eight out of 12 break chances and turned 43% of the return points into seven breaks from 17 opportunities to forge the advantage. The Spaniard dictated the pace with 57 winners and 43 unforced errors, leaving the Serb on a 48-53 ratio.
Unlike 12 months ago when he lost to Novak in another marathon, Rafa had a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes. He overpowered Djokovic in the most extended exchanges to seal the deal in four sets and avoid a five-hour clash.
Nadal was off to a flying start and broke in games one and five to open a 4-1 lead after a cracking forehand down the line winner. The Spaniard sealed the opener with a comfortable hold in game eight for 6-2 in a challenging 50 minutes.
The second set turned into an open war that lasted almost an hour and a half! Nadal seized two early breaks for a 3-0 advantage before dropping six of the next seven games and bringing Djokovic back to the scoreboard. Novak found his forehand and started to dictate the pace to perform a comeback and secure the set in the tenth game for a massive boost.
Starting all over, Rafa restored the order in set number three, taming his strokes nicely and producing a double break to win it 6-2 and move closer to the finish line. With no room for errors, Novak rattled off four impressive holds and grabbed an early break to open a 5-2 gap in set number four.
He squandered two set points on serve at 5-3, and those mistakes would prove very costly. Rafa broke back with a forehand crosscourt winner, and they both served well in the remaining three games to introduce a tie break. Djokovic failed to find his range and fell 6-1 down after a loose drop shot.
The Serb saved three match points before the Spaniard seized the fourth with a backhand down the line winner at 6-4 for a massive celebration.