June 12, (THEWILL)- In one of the greatest semi-final tennis matches ever played, world number one against world number two, 18-Grand Slam champion against 20-Grand Slam champion, and seen as the final before the final, Novak Djokovic crossed serves against 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and handed the serial champion only his third defeat in 16 years and first in 108 matches at Roland Garros on Friday.
The world was served a tennis game worthy of a classic by two of the very best at the height of their powers. And, it was the Serbian who endured to reach his sixth Roland Garros final in an epic showdown which even beat the COVID-19 curfew of the Paris event.
It was the 58th meeting of the two tennis champions and the semi-final draw that pitched them to meet at this stage, also could have seen the third of the trio of greats, Roger Federer clash against either of these champions if he had continued in the Open. But, as THEWILL reported, the Swiss maestro pulled out just before the fourth round to manage his gradual return to the strain of the game after two knee surgeries.
On Friday, however, Djokovic was not going to be denied a second ending of Nadal’s reign on the Roland Garros grounds in his indisputable reputation as the King of Clay. The Serb who lost the first set, as Nadal appeared poised to plough through their semi-final, kept his determined composure to take the next three sets in an epic battle of tennis matches, that had so many memorable plays.
The semi-final, which was a repeat of last year’s delayed Roland Garros final, saw Djokovic triumphant after four terrific sets to win against the Spaniard 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. The victory affords Djokovic the opportunity to head into another Grand Slam final as the number one player remains on course to capture a 19th major, which will make him the first man in over 50 years to win all four Slams twice each.
The 2016 champion in Paris, who had also beaten Nadal at the 2015 tournament, which was the last time the King of Clay lost, will face the Greek finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final. It will be Djokovic’s 29th championship match at the Slams as he stakes a claim for the title of one of the greatest ever in tennis.
As THEWILL reported, Tsitsipas made history earlier, in the first semi-final match, when he beat the German, Alexander Zverev, in a thrilling five-setter 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, to become the first ever Greek to reach a Grand Slam final.