Competing against each other for the 58th time in the last 15 years, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal played another epic encounter in the Roland Garros semi-final. After four hours and 11 minutes, Djokovic scored a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 triumph to advance into the sixth Roland Garros final and deliver Nadal's third loss at his beloved tournament.
After five straight losses to Rafa on clay, Novak was determined to produce his best tennis and beat the Spaniard for the second time in Paris, especially after that terrible loss in the last year's final, when he won only seven games.
It was a mind-blowing battle in the opening three sets that lasted for three and a half hours! Djokovic and Nadal threw everything they had at each other, embracing extended rallies and covering the court beautifully to give the crowd something to cheer about.
Watching the third set, Mischa Zverev explained it was like a video game, with no place for winners on each side and an extraordinary level of tennis for an hour and a half. Novak grabbed eight breaks from 22 chances and fired 50 winners and 37 unforced mistakes to control the pace and leave Nadal with nothing left in the tank in the fourth set after three straight breaks on his tally.
Carried by this massive victory, Djokovic came from two sets to love down in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas to lift the 19th Major crown.
Mischa Zverev praised Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic after their Roland Garros clash.
"It was amazing and hard to describe because everyone has seen them play well so many times.
Whenever they start over, you think it's impossible to maintain that level, but they still produce tennis from another planet. The third set had its ups and downs. Sometimes it was like a computer game because no matter where they hit the ball, the other was already there to send it back.
It seems impossible to place a winner, and they didn't make unforced errors; eventually, one of them made the difference. It's just unthinkable the way they played. It could have turned the other way. But again, there were hardly any unforced errors.
Both tried hard shots and got it right. So you can't say Nadal didn't do the right thing; it was just a great tennis match. Novak was too good towards the end," Mischa Zverev said.