..Advances To Semi-Final, On Course For 14th French Open Title, 22 Grand Slams
World number 5 and Australian Open champion, Rafael Nadal defeated top seed and Italian Open champion, Novak Djokovic, in a thrilling quarter-final encounter at the Court Philippe Chatrier to proceeds to the semi-finals at Roland Garros.
The duo, who are great tennis figures with a Grand Slam difference after the victor of the contest attained a record 21 Grand Slams in the Australian Open, processed the quarter-final duel in 4 hours 12 minutes.
Nadal, on course for a 14th French Open title, battled world number 1, Novak Djokovic, to record 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) to edge the Serbian out of the Grand Slam contest.
Accordingly, since their maiden contest in the quarter-finals of 2006 French Open, the Spaniard and the Serbian have met 59 times, with the latter winning 30 to the former’s 29.
Djokovic, in their penultimate head-to-head contest, defeated the 35-year-old Nadal in Roland Garros in 2021 and suffered a retaliatory defeat in 2022.
However, world number 5 Rafael Nadal has admitted that he played against one of the best players in the world.
He stressed that to defeat Djokovic, you must be at your best from the start of the contest to the end of it.
“A very tough match. Novak is one of the best players in history and playing against him is always an amazing challenge. Today was another one,” Nadal said after the victory.
“The only way to win against him is to play your best from the first point to the last. A magic night for me,” he added.
Reacting to the defeat, Djokovic conceded that the Spaniard was a better player in the quarter-final who started well in the match.
The Serbian extolled Nadal’s prowess noting that Spaniard took the game to a different level that depicted him as a great champion.
“He was a better player, I think, in the important moments,” Djokovic said.
“He started very well. I didn’t start so great.
“I was gaining momentum, managed to win the second set and thought OK, you know, I’m back in the game.
“But then he had another two, three fantastic games at the beginning of the third. He was just able to take his tennis to another level in those.
“He showed why he’s a great champion. Staying there mentally tough and finishing the match the way he did,” Djokovic added.
Meanwhile, Madrid Open champion and world number 6, Carlos Alcaraz has been booted out of the tournament by Alexander Zverev in a thrilling four-set encounter.
The teenage star, who stole the spotlight in Spain, defeating Nadal, Djokovic and other tennis sensations to lift the 2022 Madrid 1000 event title, was tipped as one of the favourites to triumph in Roland Garros.
However, world number 3, Alexander Zverev, inarguably did not have mercy as he hampered the prospective world’s top seed French Open campaign to schedule a semifinal cracker with Nadal.
After a 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6 (9-7) win, 25-year-old German Zverev, who turned pro in 2013, added that he had to be at his best to win the contest.
He said, “I knew I had to play my best tennis today and I’m happy I did.
“I told him at the net he will win this a lot of times, I just hope I win it before he starts,” he added.
Rafael Nadal’s victory makes it the 15th time the Spaniard has qualified for the semi-final at Roland Garros, registering his 20th win over Djokovic on Clay Court.