In the world of tennis, only a great Novak Djokovic could achieve the feat of beating King Rafael Nadal on his land at Roland Garros: Friday, the Serbian was immense in a titanic match and dismissed the Spaniard to reach the final where Stefanos Tsitsipas awaits him.
“If you want to beat Rafa on his court, you have to play your best tennis. Tonight was my best tennis,” said Djokovic who won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7 / 4), 6-2 after 4:11 in a fight that will remain engraved in the memories and annals of tennis.
The long-awaited duel since the draw was inevitably a final before the letter between two of the three best players in history at the top of their game. As a result, Djokovic, world No. 1, became the only player to have beaten Nadal (3rd) twice on Parisian clay, after his first victory over the Spaniard in 2015.
The tension was palpable as soon as the players entered the Philippe-Chatrier court which suddenly filled with electricity. And the sparks did not take long since the heavy and violent exchanges began immediately, Nadal not hesitating to ignite Djokovic on the fly from the first game.
The Serbian then took a wave-submersion and was led 5-0, glimpsing the specter of 6-0, already received in the final of the last edition. But while drowning seemed inevitable, the world No.1 clung to his racket like a buoy and resurfaced.
– “We will not go” –
Too late for the first round, but not for the rest. So much so that he deprived Nadal of a 14th coronation at Roland Garros and gave himself a chance to get closer to a length of the record of 20 Grand Slam titles jointly held by the Spaniard and Roger Federer.
The match having started shortly after 7:00 p.m. and taking place during the first three sets according to a scenario which already assured him one of the first pages in the tennis history books, we wondered how the organizers were going to be able to evacuate the stadium. to enforce the 11:00 p.m. curfew.
From 10:30 pm, the public began chanting “We will not go! We will not go!” side changes and even “Forget resignation”, in reference to the tournament director who had evacuated the spectators of the Djokovic-Berrettini quarter-final on Wednesday.
But this time the public won. While Djokovic had just won the tie break of the third set after 97 minutes for this one round (!) And thus take the lead in the match, the stadium announcer announced “Madam, Sir, in agreement with the authorities national, the match will come to an end in your presence “.
– All Major doubles –
In the hubbub of a crowd dreading the eviction notice, the first announcement was not enough. But the second provoked an explosion of joy: “Thank you Macron! Thank you Macron!” chanted the audience before singing a Marseillaise.
On Sunday, Djokovic will try to win Roland-Garros for a second time, after 2016, to become the only player of the Open era (since 1968), and the third in history (after Roy Emerson and Rod Laver) to have his winners at least twice each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
He will have to beat Tsitsipas (5th) who dominated Alexander Zverev (6th) 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in the other semi-final.
Until then, the Greek had lost his first three Grand Slam semi-finals (Australian Open 2019 and 2021, Roland Garros 2020).
“I remembered where I come from and my roots, my dream was to play here, on these big courts”, he confided with tears in his eyes.
He who has won the most games (39) since the start of the season, including on clay (22), is finally where we expected him, in the final.
Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.
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