Daily US Times: Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal’s reign at the French Open with a stunning four-set win in a classic semi-final. The match will be ranked among the all-time great matches on the Roland Garros clay.
Serbian star Djokovic won 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 against Nadal, champion in each of the past four years.
Rafael Nadal, going for a record-extending 14th title, lost at Roland Garros for only the third time in 108 matches.
Djokovic must now recover to play Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, in Sunday’s final.
The Greek reached his first Grand Slam final by beating German sixth seed Alexander Zverev in a five-set epic earlier on Friday.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas surely have been watching the semi final between Djokovic and Nadal, like the rest of the tennis world was, as two of the all-time greats fought out a brutal battle for the right to face him in the showpiece.
Djokovic said: “It was one of these matches you can remember forever. It was one of the top three matches in my life.”
The high-quality match was full of suspense and drama, turns and twists, as it was played in front of 5,000 fans, who were allowed to stay despite France’s 11pm curfew as part of its Covid-19 restrictions.
That decision came after a remarkable 98-minute third set which saw Novak Djokovic hold his nerve to win a tie-break on which the whole match seemed to hinge.
Spanish superstar Nadal, 35, did break serve in the first game of the fourth set and led 2-0, but could not cope with the Serbian’s sky-high level as he quickly won the next six games to wrap up victory after more than four hours on court.
Djokovic looked shattered as he raised his arms in celebration after the win, then wearily broke into a smile as he prepared for the on-court interview given by the winner.
Djokovic said: “To win against Rafa on this court you have to play your best tennis, and tonight I played my best tennis.” Djokovic could now win his 19th Grand Slam title to move one behind Nadal and Federer’s all-time record.