The 58th clash between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros semi-final turned to be a memorable one, like many times before when these two step on the court. Djokovic and Nadal stayed on Court Philippe-Chatrier for four hours and 11 minutes and pushed each other to the limits before the Serb prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 for his sixth final in Paris.
After five straight losses to Nadal on clay, Djokovic was ready to make an extra step and beat the most significant rival for the second time in Paris, confident in his game. The Serb scored eight breaks (Nadal lost serve that many times in the entire Roland Garros 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 and Novak Djokovic played one of their best matches at Roland Garros.
Despite a great start, Nadal lost steam in the crucial moments, wasting his chances in the closing stages of the second set and squandering 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!
The Spaniard praised the Serb and his performance, saying that Novak came 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, taking it 7-4 and never looking back after that. Rafa suffered three breaks in a row in the fourth set to hit the exit door and experience only the third Roland Garros loss.
"I have to give credit to Novak. I won many times here, but I couldn't 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 going. 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.