Rafael Nadal wins his fight against Novak Djokovic and reaches the semifinals at Roland-Garros

The war of the gods has taken place. We no longer know if we should be surprised, with the two aliens being Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The two men have become so accustomed to the extraordinary that the use of superlatives is almost useless to evoke their confrontations. The craziest thing, finally, is that they still manage to invent new scenarios when they were, on this cool, opaque Parisian night, in act 59 of their hand in hand.

Rare are the spectators of Chatrier who left with the last metro and therefore almost all were there to see Nadal raise his arms to heaven in his blessed land in Porte d’Auteuil, after a last winning setback , at the end of a 4h12. party that supposed a new apogee of intensity and dramaturgy.

Were we afraid before the meeting that the coolness and humidity of the night would slow down the game to the detriment of the Mallorcan? Did the whole community see “Nole” as big as a house? Did Christmas itself clearly see itself as an outsider only for the second time in nine clashes with the Serbian in Paris ocher? All predictions were quickly broken.

For the first hour, the Christmas returns were demonically deep and their setback disarmingly solid.

The tone was set from the second point, a 22-rally rally that Djokovic lost despite some exceptional defensive shots. The world number one knew, then, that he would have to fight a Homeric battle to continue his quest for a 21st Grand Slam, like a first game that lasted ten minutes.

Because for more than an hour Nadal did not settle for Olympus, he flew over it. Forgotten, that left foot hurt forever that had made him suffer so much in Rome. Forgotten, the inconsistent level proposed at first against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the previous round. Christmas was coming back from the big days.

With his right spinning faster and going faster than everyone else, he took the lead in the exchanges. His returns were demonically deep and his setback disarmingly solid. Djokovic was not bad, only a little inconsistent, especially in service (48% of the first services in the 1st set), and above all terribly helpless in front of this ball that kept coming back, wherever he played, no matter what. .

After an hour and a quarter, the 6-2, 3-0, double break of the Spaniard, who has presented an impeccable sheet of statistics, with 21 winning shots for only 7 unforced errors. But the fight was much more intense than indicated by the scoreboard, as the first game of the second set, 16 minutes long and during which the Serb saved 6 break points before giving way. drop in the Mallorcan’s diet so that the meeting completely changed its appearance.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal entertained with very high level exchanges. (P.Lahalle / The team)

Djokovic is frustrated

The carriage carrying Nadal to the quarterfinals did not suddenly turn into a pumpkin, but his ball began to hurt him less, his balls began to fall on the wrong side of the lines and Djokovic heard him. , ruthless predator that is. He broke first and then a second after a monumental 18-minute match.

It was he who now drove the powertrain and it was hardly surprising that he won the second set (6-4) with an electric Chatrier, forcing the referee to ask the public to “Leave ads to line judges” or not showing up “during points and between services”.

Twilight of the god Nadal, who two days earlier had uttered a mysterious phrase, suggesting that this might be Roland’s last match? No. The man with 13 Grand Slams in Paris broke white from the start and flew back, taking advantage of a real Nole slack. The level became human again, with ups and downs on both sides. A great right-kick from the world number one gave the Spaniard the third set (6-2).

The Serb was frustrated and hit the net with his racket after a failed volley. But that didn’t stop him from breaking a handful of points later, in a short Christmas back-center that found an unreal angle but came out a few millimeters (2-0).

We calmly headed for a fifth entrance, despite the “Rafa, Rafa!” sung by a brave audience, despite the late hour and a slightly lower thermal sensation every minute. Djoko was offered two seven-pointers with a 5-3 lead, but missed the opportunity. Nadal broke with a capital right.

Three match points saved in vain by the Serb

This masterpiece needed a masterful conclusion and Nadal took charge of it in the decisive match, causing an error by the Serb at the end of a Dantean rally, before delivering two winning right strokes to quickly disassociate the 6-1 .

Djokovic saved three with the root of those who have nothing to lose, but ended up capitulating. He quickly left Central as Nadal struggled to answer Marion Bartoli’s first question in French. He had hinted that this match could be his last at Roland Garros. His Paris idyll will last at least until Friday and his semifinal against Alexander Zverev, also winner of an exceptional match against Carlos Alcaraz.

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