French Open 2022 Live Updates: Nadal vs. Djokovic Highlights

PARIS — For a man who didn’t want to face Novak Djokovic on the night, Rafael Nadal certainly made the best of the situation. Whatever th...


PARIS — For a man who didn’t want to face Novak Djokovic on the night, Rafael Nadal certainly made the best of the situation.

Whatever the time and whatever the surface, Nadal remains one of the supreme fighters and problem solvers in the sport. Although Nadal didn’t have the clout as a 13-time French Open champion to sway the schedule, he had the talent and the will to fend off the one man who beat him twice at Roland Garros.

Nadal, who turns 36 on Friday, was irresistible at the start of his last marathon with Djokovic and sometimes shaky in the middle, but he found a way well after midnight to save two set points on the stretch and cross the finish line in first. with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) win.

“Novak is without a doubt one of the best players in history,” Nadal said. “Playing him is always an incredible challenge, the whole story we have together. Today was another. To win against Novak, there is only one way to play, at your best and from the first period, and tonight was one of those magical nights for me.

This triumph of four hours and 12 minutes did not secure the trophy for Nadal. It was only a quarter-final on a freezing Tuesday evening when scarves were definitely in order on the Philippe Chatrier court (some supporters chose to wrap themselves entirely in Spanish or Serbian flags).

But the victory – completed at 1:15 a.m. local time Wednesday — is provide Nadal with the kind of buzz and satisfaction that validates his decision to keep pushing the limits at this late stage in his career and also protected his lead in race to finish with the most men’s Grand Slam singles titles. Nadal took the record by winning his 21st major title in the Australian Open in Januarybreaking his tie with longtime rivals Djokovic and Roger Federer, who both won 20.

Not that Nadal is obsessed with running.

“There is always a conversation about which player will end up with more Grand Slams or who is the best in history, but from my point of view it doesn’t really matter,” he said. declared. “We achieved our dreams.”

That’s certainly true for Nadal at Roland Garros, where he succeeded far beyond even his own imaginations.

There was a time, at the start of his long period of dominance in Paris, when he was not the crowd favorite at Roland Garros. Fans traditionally cheer for the underdog and have long applauded Federer loudest when it comes to the big three who have dominated the men’s game for the better part of the past 20 years.

But the mood has changed in recent seasons. There is now a statue of Nadal near the entrance to the stadium complex, and throughout Tuesday evening there were chants of ‘Rafa’ even as Djokovic prepared to serve in critical phases .

“I think they probably know I won’t be here many more times,” Nadal said.

It was Djokovic who didn’t get the chance to play at the Australian Open this year. He was sent off on the eve of the competition after a confrontation with the Australian government over his non-vaccination against Covid-19. But he arrived in Paris and Tuesday’s game in more convincing form than Nadal, who is arguably the greatest male clay-court player in history but has been very short on surface games this year.

“Yes, I was surprised by my level tonight,” said Nadal. “But in a way it makes it easier when you know you need your A game or you’re going home.”

Nadal injured his ribs at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California in March, losing the final to American Taylor Fritz while playing with a stress fracture. He missed most of the start of the clay-court season and only returned for the Madrid Open in mid-May when he was upset by fellow 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. in the quarter-finals.

Then came the Italian Open, his only other clay-court event before Roland Garros, where Nadal was beaten in three sets by Canadian Denis Shapovalov in an overnight round of 16 match in Rome in which he limped to upon arrival, grimacing in pain as his chronic left foot condition resurfaced. He was dejected after that defeat but did not rule out playing at Roland Garros and arrived in Paris seeded fifth and, unlike Rome, with his longtime doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro.

“Having the doctor here, you can do things that help,” Nadal said, declining to go into details about his treatment while continuing to suggest this could be his last appearance at Roland Garros. “I’m putting everything I have to try to play this tournament in the best possible conditions, right? I don’t know what can happen next, honestly, but here I think it will be fine.

As often, Nadal was able to play and win despite the pain. He battled to a five-set victory in the fourth round over 21-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, then faced top-seeded Djokovic for the 59th time on tour and 10th time at Roland Garros.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Djokovic said after the game. “It’s not the first time that he, you know, has been able a few days after he was injured and barely walking to come out at 100 per cent fitness. You know, he’s done it several times in his career, so I’m not surprised.

Last year, in another emotional night match, Djokovic beat Nadal in four sets to claim the title. Nadal passed out in the final set due to Djokovic’s stamina but also the foot condition – Müller-Weiss syndrome – which would keep him out of action for most of what was left of the season. 2021.

But in this French Open rematch, Nadal was strong off the start and finish in a grueling duel with an average rally length of well over five strokes. Nadal finished with 57 winners for 43 unforced errors and did a much better job than Djokovic of protecting his second serve: winning 60% of the points on it while Djokovic only won 42% on his.

Still, Djokovic served for the fourth set at 5-4 and twice was just one point away from forcing a decisive fifth. But on the first set point, Djokovic lost a long rally by hitting a backhand into the net. On the second he decided to be more aggressive but his approach shot was more upbeat than good and Nadal ran to his right and hit a backhand winner that Djokovic never came close to achieving.

It was soon 5-5 in the fourth set and Nadal quickly took control of the ensuing tiebreaker, just as he had taken quick control of the game. He took a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker, then held on and closed out the victory on his fourth match point with another backhand winner, turning to his team and raising both arms.

“Congratulations to Nadal, he was the best player in the important moments,” Djokovic said. “I managed to win the second set and thought I was back in the game, but he still had a couple of fantastic games at the start of the third. He was just able to take his tennis to another level.

Djokovic still leads his overall streak 30-29 – a stat that reflects the transcendence of their rivalry – but Nadal has now extended his lead over Djokovic in Roland Garros matches to 8-2 and will face third-seeded German Alexander Zverev on Friday for a spot in the men’s singles final.

Nadal is the only man left in the tournament to have won the French Open, and while Tuesday night’s performance may have surprised Nadal and those who saw him limp in Rome, it surely wouldn’t surprise anyone if Nadal took the confidence and momentum that accompanies Djokovic’s defeat and led him to a 14th Roland Garros title.

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Newsrust - US Top News: French Open 2022 Live Updates: Nadal vs. Djokovic Highlights
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