- Rafael Nadal, a 13-time champion in Paris, was not going to relinquish his crown without a fight
Novak Djokovic stunned defending champion Rafael Nadal in a titanic four-set semifinal on Friday to hand the Spaniard just his third-ever loss at Roland Garros, EKO HOT BLOG gathered.
The top-ranked Serb will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final as he guns for a double Career Grand Slam.
Novak Djokovic was torn apart by Rafael Nadal in last year’s Roland Garros final, and it looked like deja vu for the Serb when he trailed 0-5 in the opening set.
But the Serb produced a spirited fightback to win the second set, which set the tone for a grueling arm wrestle between the two giants of modern tennis.
Djokovic served for the third set at 5-4, which is when Nadal stormed back to level the proceedings. But the 34-year-old showcased remarkable mental fortitude to edge the ensuing tie-breaker and seize control of the match.
Rafael Nadal, a 13-time champion in Paris, was not going to relinquish his crown without a fight. The Spaniard broke Novak Djokovic early in the fourth, and it looked like the match would go to a decider.
The Serb, however, was not going to be denied on this day. He raised his level by several notches to reel off six straight games and become the first man to beat Nadal at Roland Garros twice, thereby ending the Spaniard’s era of dominance on the Parisian clay.
On that note, here are the three biggest talking points from Djokovic’s stunning victory.
#1 It took a jaw-dropping display of tennis to finally dethrone Rafael Nadal
Heading into Friday’s encounter, Rafael Nadal had lost just two matches at Roland Garros his entire career. He boasted an incredible 105-2 record in Paris, and had gone on to win the title all 13 times he had reached the semifinals.
And if anyone was aware of the magnitude of the challenge at hand, it was Novak Djokovic. The Serb had lost to Nadal seven out of eight times they had met in the French capital, including last year’s final – where he managed a measly seven games.
On Friday, however, Nadal had no answer to Djokovic’s jaw-dropping level of play. The Spaniard usually smothers his opponents from the back of the court with his immense physicality, but he finally met his match in the Serb.
Djokovic was the epitome of consistency as he struck a whopping 50 winners and committed just 37 unforced errors, sealing the win in four hours and 10 minutes. With the victory, Djokovic snapped the Spaniard’s 35-match winning streak at Roland Garros and ended his bid for a record-extending 14th title.
#2 Novak Djokovic’s tactical tweaks paid rich dividends
In the first set, Novak Djokovic directed around 45% of his forehands to Nadal’s forehand. While that tactic has yielded rewards on faster surfaces in the past, it backfired spectacularly on Friday.
Nadal was only too happy to unleash his trademark down-the-line forehand as he sailed to a 5-0 lead. And although Djokovic clawed his way back into the set, it was too little too late as the Spaniard took it 6-3.
The Serb, however, made adjustments over the course of the next three sets. Novak Djokovic began directing more traffic to Nadal’s backhand at the start of the second. He also started to strike his forehand with a lot more spin, generating sharp angles that drew Nadal off the court.
The Serb was given a helping hand by the Spaniard too, who made errors at a few crucial junctures of the match.
Nadal squandered a set point in the third set and also coughed up a double fault on the opening point of the tie-break. To make matters worse, Nadal missed a regulation forehand volley at 4-3, gifting Djokovic a mini-break.
The Serb didn’t look back from there.
#3 Novak Djokovic is one win away from a double Career Grand Slam
Novak Djokovic will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday. If the Serb defeats Tsitsipas, he will become the first player in the Open Era to win each Grand Slam twice.
Given the level Novak Djokovic showcased on Friday, it would take a brave man to bet against him clinching his second Roland Garros trophy.
If Novak Djokovic does succeed in beating the Greek, he would also be within tantalizing reach of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s all-time Grand Slam record of 20. Needless to say, the GOAT debate has suddenly come alive.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THIS
Advertise or Publish a Story on EkoHot Blog:
Kindly contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Breaking stories should be sent to the above email and substantiated with pictorial evidence.
Citizen journalists will receive a token as data incentive.
Call or Whatsapp: 0803 561 7233, 0703 414 5611