Top-seeded Novac Djokovic came from a set down to beat the greatest clay-court master and 13-time Roland Garros winner, Rafael Nadal to book a place in the French Open final on Sunday.
Nadal’s hope of setting a new record for most Grand Slam titles in the men’s category ended after an impressive display from Djokovic to inflict only the third loss for the Spaniard at the French open, and the Serb will hope to win his 19th Grand Slam title.
Djokovic put up the same display – as he did in 2015 – to beat Nadal 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in a game that lasted 4 hours and 11 minutes, as the number three seed lost a semifinal at the Roland Garros for the first time in his career, after winning the previous 13 he played in.
After the match, Nadal, who is the greatest player at the Roland Garros, winning 105 of his 108 games – including this match, received a standing ovation from the crowd, and he said lack of precision at important moments.
The 35-year-old Spaniard said: “Probably it was not my best day out there. Even if I fought, I put a lot of effort, the position on the shots hasn’t been that effective tonight. Against a player like him, that takes the ball early, you are not able to take him out of his positions, then it is very difficult. Even like this, I had the big chance with the setpoint, 6-5, second serve. Anything could happen in that moment.
“Then I make a double fault, easy volley in the tie-break. But it’s true that there have been crazy points out there. The fatigue is there, too. These kind of mistakes can happen. But, if you want to win, you can’t make these mistakes. So that’s it. Well done for him. Has been a good fight out there. I tried my best, and today was not my day.”
After the match, Djokovic hailed his opponent and revealed that it was his best game in France. The Serbian said: “The first thing I want to say is it was my privilege also to be on the court with Rafa in this incredible match. It is surely the best match I have played here in Paris. It’s also the match with the best atmosphere, ambience and energy.”
Novak will battle it out with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated Alexander Zverev earlier on Friday in a five-set contest in a bid to win his 19th Grand Slam title, one behind Rodger Federer, while the young Greek will hope to win his first-ever Grand Slam title.