Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will step on Court Philippe-Chatrier later on Sunday, battling for the last Major title of the season. Novak and Rafa have won 13 of the previous 15 titles in Paris, with Nadal lifting the trophy 12 times and hoping to extend his dominance on beloved clay Major.
Still, his coach Carlos Moya is aware of the rival on the other side of the net, calling Novak Djokovic one of the greatest players of all time and expecting a tough battle in every point. It will be the ninth Major final between Rafa and Novak, sharing the previous eight and setting another spectacular clash on Sunday, maybe the crucial one in the GOAT race with Roger Federer.
Fighting for the place in the 13th Roland Garros final, Nadal took down Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 in three hours and nine minutes, maintaining a perfect score in the semi-final matches in Paris! Nadal defeated Schwartzman for the tenth time in 11 encounters, avenging the Rome quarter-final loss and becoming the third-oldest Roland Garros finalist in the Open era behind Andres Gimeno and Ken Rosewall.
Rafa had to work hard against an in-form rival, forging a 6-3, 6-3, 4-2 lead before starting to lose ground a bit, surviving a challenging service game at 5-5 and sealing the deal after taking all seven points in the tie break to reach the final without losing a set.
Nadal saved nine out of 12 break chances, controlling his games' pace until the second part of the third set and delivering six breaks that earned him victory.
Carlos Moya called Novak Djokovic one of the greatest players in history.
Rafa had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, playing aggressive tennis and hitting 38 winners and 34 unforced errors.
In his 38th Major semi-final, Novak Djokovic prevailed over Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-2 in three hours and 54 minutes for the 27th Major title match. Tsitsipas lost the crucial points in the opening two sets to fall behind, saving a match point at 4-5 in the third to prolong the action.
The Greek stole that set and seized the fourth after fending off ten out of 11 break chances, setting up a decider with momentum on his side of the court. Nonetheless, Novak started all over and toppled the rival in the fifth set to reach the first title match in Paris since 2016 when he claimed the only Roland Garros crown.
"It's a formidable challenge against Djokovic, one of the greatest players in history. I don't know if it will be more complicated than facing Roger Federer at his best at Wimbledon, but we have a plan. Djokovic has been using the drop shots for a long time, and in the last two weeks, he has done even more.
We will have to be ready. Serves are less dangerous. We will take that into account because the initial shot won't bring many direct points," Carlos Moya said.