Novak Djokovic fought back from a set down in a thrilling French Open semi-final to overcome Rafa Nadal for the third time on the Parisian clay, winning 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2 in front of a captivated audience on Friday. At the French Open, Novak Djokovic defeated 13-time winner Rafael Nadal for the first time in 16 years and 108 matches.
Djokovic, the 2016 Paris winner who previously defeated Nadal in the 2015 event, will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday, in what will be his 29th Slam title match.
Djokovic vs Nadal
The 58th fixture between the two warriors delivered superhuman tennis, potentially rivalling anything they had dreamt up against each other since they first met in 2006.
Nadal, who is aiming for a record-extending 14th French Open victory, won the opening five games and appeared to be on track to duplicate his thrashing of the Serb in the final last year.
But Djokovic, the world number one, took control of the match, winning the second set and then edging a tense 97-minute third set in a tiebreak after saving a set point.
However, the Spaniard hung on like a champion, but Djokovic relentlessly closed in, appearing fresh after fighting it out for four hours with the world’s best ever claycourter.
After breaking a tired Nadal’s service for a 4-2 lead in the fourth set, the Serb inflicted his first loss on the Spaniard at the French Open since beating him in the quarter-finals in 2015.
Since winning the championship on his debut in 2005, Nadal has a 105-3 record at Roland Garros.
‘The Best Match’
The World no. 1 expressed after the game, “Definitely the best match that I was part of at Roland Garros, and top three matches that I ever played in my entire career.”
“Considering the quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and has been the dominant force in the last 15-plus years, and the atmosphere which was completely electric. One of these nights and matches you will remember forever.”