Rafael Nadal demonstrated once again why French Open is his fortress history by beating Perennial rival Novak Djokovic in a late-night thriller to reach the men’s singles semi-finals.
Spaniard Nadal, going for a 14th title, started superbly and dealt with champion Djokovic late challenge to win 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) at Roland Garros.
Nadal secured victory at 1:15am local time after over four hours on court.
“To win against Novak there is only one way: to play your best from the first point to the last,” said 35-year-old Nadal, who thanked the Paris crowd for showing their “love”.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 31, 2022
“This is one of those magic nights for me.”
Victory over Djokovic sees Nadal avenged his semi-final defeat by Djokovic last year and extended his all-time record on the Roland Garros clay to 110 wins in 113 matches.
Nadal slides on the clay like Cavalho's sliding tackles 😂
No one can match him on clay.
— POOJA!!! (@PoojaMedia) May 31, 2022
The rivalry between the duo is the most enduring in men’s tennis, with Nadal winning their 59th meeting seeing him close the gap to 30-29 in the head-to-head.
“Nadal showed why he is a great champion and stayed mentally tough. No doubt he deserves it,” said Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal, again, shows he's truly the King of #RolandGarros.
The 13-time champ defeats Novak Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4), reaching the semifinals.
— Biola Solace-Chukwu (@Beeorlicious) May 31, 2022
“He was the better player in the important moments, he started well and I didn’t start so well.
“I gained momentum in the second set and I thought I was back in the game. But he was able to take his tennis to another level.”
The 21-time Grand Slam winner now faces third seed Alexander Zverev on Friday
Germany’s Zverev, 25, reached the semi-finals for the second successive year after surviving teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz’s fightback earlier on Tuesday.