Less than a year after being hammered by Rafael Nadal in the final of the French Open, Novak Djokovic put on a show to stop the greatest-ever clay-courter with an emphatic win on Friday at the Philippe Chattrier. And it seems, Djokovic loved his titanic battle against the 13-time champion.
At the start, it looked like tennis fans were set to witness a repeat of 2020 final as Djokovic was down 0-5 in the first set. However, he hung in there and won three consecutive games to give a glimpse of what was to come. Djokovic raised his game and hit some stunning backhand winners to take the second set 6-3.
The third set was one of the ages as both Djokovic and Nadal gave it their all, leaving tennis fans at the Chattrier and across the globe awestruck. There was nothing to separate the two as they went toe-to-toe with each other, not giving any each to their opponent. But once again, it was Djokovic who prevailed at the end of the 91-minute set by winning the tie-breaker.
Djokovic was broken early in the 4th set but he rallied back to win 6 games in a row to register one of his greatest wins.
The French Open organisers made an exemption for fans to stay beyond the 11 pm cut-off time, citing “exceptional nature of the circumstances”. It was certainly a special match as the two gladiators fought it out in the middle, reminding the fans of the sport, once again, how privileged they are to live in the era of the Big 3.
Speaking after securing his passage to a 5th Roland Garros final, Novak Djokovic called the win over Nadal his greatest-ever match at the Roland Garros.
Pressure is a privilege: Djokovic
“First I want to say it is a privilege to be on this court with Rafael Nadal. The biggest match I have ever played here in Paris. Also the best match with the best atmosphere for both players,” Djokovic said.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 11, 2021
“To win against Rafa on this court you have to play your best tennis, and tonight I played my best tennis. It’s hard to find the words to sum up how I feel. You tell yourself there is no pressure but there is.
“Pressure is a privilege – to test my game and my character in matches like this.”
Djokovic became the first man to beat Nadal twice at Roland Garros as he ended the Spaniard’s perfect record in the semi-final. It was also the first time Nadal lost a match at the clay-court Grand Slam after going a set up. Djokovic will face 5th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final as he bids to win his 2nd French Open title.