In one of the best encounters in the last couple of decades, Novak Djokovic defeated the king of clay Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 in four hours and 11 minutes in the Roland Garros semi-final. Thus, Nadal suffered only his third loss in Paris, and the second versus Djokovic after 2015, losing the title and heading it to Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Giving his best, 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 on Friday night.
Like in last year's final, Rafa made a perfect start and opened a 5-0 advantage. Still, Novak was there to fight, 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 to be 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.
After the match, Rafa said that he had his chances and gave his best despite fatigue.
Rafael Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic after four hours and 11 minutes at Roland Garros.
"It wasn't 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 wasn't that effective tonight. Against a player like Novak, who takes the ball early, you have to take him out from the comfort zone; otherwise, it's tough to beat him," Rafael Nadal said.