Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal’s reign at the French Open with a four-set win in a classic semi-final, which full of twists, turns and sensational tennis, here on Friday night.
The odds were stacked against the World No 1, as Nadal was 105-2 at the clay-court Grand Slam and 7-1 at this tournament against him. But, Djokovic showed incredible mental fortitude and physical skill to register a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 victory over Nadal in a four hours and 22 minutes clash.
“It was for sure the most beautiful match I’ve played here in Paris,” Djokovic said on court in French.
The top seed lost the first five games and appeared in danger of letting the match slip away. But Djokovic never lost his focus against Nadal, champion in each of the past four years.
Nadal, going for a record-extending 14th title, lost at Roland Garros for only the third time in 108 matches.
‘Well done for him. It was a good fight out there. I tried my best, and today was not my day,’ Nadal told reporters.
Nadal was chasing a record 21st Grand Slam title, which would have moved him past Roger Federer to stand alone atop the all-time list. But now Djokovic is one victory from completing a second Career Grand Slam and earn his 19th major crown, which would put him within one of Federer and Nadal.
The match was played on Court Philippe-Chatrier in front of a raucuous crowd, which was allowed to stay for the whole match despite a curfew in France.
Djokovic, 34, will now play Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.
The 22-year-old Greek reached his first Grand Slam final by beating German sixth seed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 37 minutes in the day’s first semi-final.
The Serbian owns a 5-2 advantage against Tsitsipas and he defeated him in five sets in last year’s Roland Garros semi-finals.