Novak Djokovic did not let Rafael Nadal in the final of Roland Garros

In an amazing battle of the titans, the leader of the world ranking won. Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal for the 8th time on his favorite surface.

A stunning battle was staged in the semifinals of Roland Garros, the ATP#1 of the world Novak Djokovic and the King of soil Rafael Nadal. For more than four hours they fought on the court, showing their entire arsenal of capabilities. Incredibly, in this fight of the titans, Djokovic defeated, who did not let the Spaniard into his 14th final in Paris.

Four representatives of the top 6 seeding reached the semifinals of men’s Roland Garros – 2021 – all those tennis players who showed themselves better during the clay series. The first racket of the world Novak Djokovic was a finalist of the Masters in Rome and won the title in his homeland in Belgrade. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) won in Monte Carlo and Lyon and reached the final in Barcelona. Alexander Zverev (6) became the champion in Madrid, and the King of clay Rafael Nadal (3) – in Barcelona and Rome. As a result, Nadal and Djokovic met each other in the upper half of the grid, and Tsitsipas and Zverev – in the lower one.

Representatives of the Next Gen generation were the first to play for the decisive match. Alexander Zverev has already played in the final of the Grand Slam tournament – it was at the US Open – 2020, when he lost in a five-set confrontation with Dominic Tim. Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the other hand, had never played in the Major’s final until that moment. The Greek had three semi-finals, but he lost in all – at Roland Garros – 2020 and at the Australian Open – 2019 and 2021. Naturally, Zverev and Tsitsipas know each other very well. They are almost the same age – they have been playing together since their junior years. On a professional level, Alexander and Stefanos played seven times with each other, and the score was 5-2 in favor of the Greek. However, their last meeting in the Acapulco-2021 final was won by Zverev.

Tsitsipas started the semi-final decisively – one break at the start was enough for him to take the first game in 38 minutes – 6: 3. Zverev in the second set answered in a mirror-like manner – he took 3: 0, but Stefanos immediately turned the tide of the match – one after the other he took six games in a row and hung the opponent with a “hidden steering wheel” – 6: 3. After Alexander began to concede 0-2 in sets, he turned on additional revolutions, played more actively, harder. He no longer had any problems with his serve, but he took the other’s one once in the next two games – 6: 4, 6: 4. In the decisive set, there was an equal and stubborn struggle. The tennis players earned only one break point each, but Tsitsipas realized his, and the German did not. This is how, in 3 hours 40 minutes, Stefanos made his first hit in the final of the Grand Slam tournament – 6: 3, 6: 3, 4: 6, 4: 6, 6: 3.

The main match of Friday’s program of the day at Roland Garros was the 58th battle between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. This is the biggest rivalry in the Open Era in terms of the number of matches played. The total score to the semi-finals in Paris 2021 was 29-28 in favor of the Serb. On hard, Djokovic won more often – 20-7, but on clay Rafa already had complete dominance – 19-7.

It is important to note that Novak Djokovic is the best on the round against Rafa on sand courts. Seven times the Serb managed to defeat the King of the Ground on this surface. Including this happened in the quarter finals of Roland Garros – 2015.

Semifinal Djokovic – Nadal at the current Roland Garros started unexpectedly. The Spaniard, although in the fight, but confidently took the lead 5: 0. Immediately, many tennis fans remembered the 2020 finals, in which the Spaniard hung an offensive steering wheel on Novak in the starting set, after which he defeated Djokovic in less than 3 hours in three sets. But this time the “donuts” did not happen: Novak changed and won 3 games in a row. Only after that did Rafa finish the game – 6: 3 in exactly 1 hour. In the second set, the Serb was in no way inferior to the 13-time champion of the tournament. Moreover, he was the first to make a break – 2: 0, and when Nadal played it back, he returned the advantage again – 4: 2. At the same time, the tennis players for two scored 11 break points for the game, but they could not realize any more opportunities. The game account was equalized – 1: 1.

The third set was a mini-embodiment of all the epic confrontation of these tennis players over the years. Djokovic and Nadal just worked wonders on the court, showing amazing rallies and shots. It is not surprising that the entire tennis world watched this battle of the titans with bated breath. For example, the three-time winner of the Grand Slam tournaments Andy Murray wrote on Twitter: “There can be no better tennis on the ground than in this match. Perfection”. And Maria Sharapova admired the restraint and composure of the referee Eva Asderaki-Moore, who managed to extinguish the emotions of the players, spectators and make adequate decisions. Twice the rivals exchanged breaks and escaped from break points in four more games. But in the end, everything was decided in a tie-break, where luck smiled at Djokovic.

By this time, the tennis players had already spent 3.5 hours on the court, and the curfew in Paris was clearly looming in front of everyone. The spectators had to leave the stands, but, apparently, the organizers were able to come to an agreement with the city authorities, and as an exception, the public was allowed to watch the match to the end. The fourth set was the fastest. Rafa took the lead with a break – 2: 0, but then allowed the opponent to take six games in a row. 3: 6, 6: 3, 7: 6, 6: 2 in 4 hours 13 minutes.

This is how the leader of the world ranking interrupted the streak of 35 victories of Nadal at Roland Garros. Since 2015, the Spaniard has not known defeats on these courts. Thus, Rafael will not be able to win his 14th title in Paris and 21st “Helmet” this year, which means that he and Federer will still have 20 won majors each. As for Djokovic, this is his eighth victory over Nadal on his favorite surface. The Serb reached the Roland Garros final for the sixth time in his career. Recall that Novak won the title here in 2016 and thus designed the “Career helmet” – that is, he won at each of the majors at least once. Now he has a great chance to do this a second time. Neither Nadal nor Federer has a second Career Helmet. Raphael lacks one more title at the Australian Open, and Roger – for the same Roland Garros.

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Author: Oleg Ceban
Graduated from University of Oxford. Previously, he worked in various diferent news media. Currently, it is a columnist of the world news section in the Free News editors.
Function: Editor
Oleg Ceban

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