Nadal Too Tough For Djokovic In French Open Thriller, Zverev Stops Alcaraz
Rafael Nadal showed once again why he’s the King of Clay and the all-time great. With many picking against him, Nadal came from a break down in the fourth to topple the favorite Novak Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) and return to the French Open semifinals for a 15th time.
Nadal broke Djokovic in the first game of the first three sets, which set the tone. But up a set and two breaks at 3-0, Djokovic went into lockdown. After one grueling game after another, Djokovic would take the 88 minute set which saw six deuce games and Djokovic win six of the last seven games.
With the wind in his sails, Djokovic dropped the opening game of the third and about 30 minutes later it was Nadal up two sets to one, a position he had never to Djokovic once he reached.
Djokovic would finally hold to start the fourth and then break. Serving 5-4, Djokovic missed on two set points to force a fifth. Nadal would get the break back and then take control of the break going up 6-1 and hold on for his 11th straight win at a Slam this year, and 110th French Open match victory.
“It has been a very emotional night for me. I’m still playing for nights like today,” Nadal following the win which ended 1:17am in Paris. “But it’s just a quarter-final match, no? So I didn’t win anything. So I just give myself a chance to be back on court in two days, play another semifinals here in Roland Garros. Means a lot to me.
Nadal also avenged the loss he suffered to Djokovic last year in the semifinals.
“Of course we have a lot of history together,” Nadal said after narrowing the gap to 30-29 with Djokovic. “A lot of important moments playing against each other. That’s the truth. In that case, always is a special match, playing against Novak.
“Tonight just a quarterfinal match, not the final… But still a super classic match and in a big scenario. Between Novak, Roger, myself — we have an amazing story together facing each other in the most important matches for such a long time. So that makes things more special and more emotional.”
Djokovic had won nine straight matches and 22 sets in a row, but the early breaks and errors cost him.
“Congratulations to Nadal. He was a better player I think in important moments,” Djokovic said. Started very well. I didn’t start so great, 2-6, 0-3, double break down. I was gaining momentum as I was coming back in the second set, managed to win the second set, and I thought, I’m back in the game.
“But then he had another two, three fantastic games at the beginning of the third. He was just able to take his tennis to another level in those, particularly moments at the beginning of all sets except the fourth…. he showed why he’s a great champion. Staying mentally tough and finishing the match the way he did. Congrats to him and his team. No doubt he deserved it.”
Spain couldn’t got 2-0 on the day as Alexander Zverev got revenge on a Madrid loss to Carlos Alcaraz holding off the teen in a tight four-setter 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7).
Zverev dominated the first two sets as the teen failed to make any inroads on the Zverev serve and the German dictated from the baseline.
Alcaraz finally got his teeth into the match late in the third just as Zverev was looking to close it.
In the fourth a double fault would give Zverev a chance to serve it out. But the serve which had been so solid all afternoon went away and the nerves came back. Alcaraz would level to the roar of the crowd.
To his credit, Zverev got back on track to get to a breaker. The two went back-and-forth, trading mini-breaks. Alcaraz would get to a set point on the Zverev serve but was denied as the 6-foot-6 German excelled off the backhand. And a backhand winner off an Alcaraz second serve sealed the deal and gave Zverev his first career win over a Top 10 player in 12 tries.
“I knew that I had to play my absolute best tennis today, from the start on, and I’m happy that I did that,” said Zverev told the crowd. “Obviously he kept on coming back, he’s an incredible player. I told him at the net, going to win this tournament a lot of times, not only once. I hope I can win it before he starts beating us all and we will have no chance at all.
“The match was turning his way,” said Zverev of the fourth. “So I’m extremely happy that I won the tie-break and didn’t have to play a five-set match and be disappointed after a five-set match again like I was last year after the semifinals.”
Alcaraz’s bid fell just short and his 14-match win streak is over.
“I have to take the lessons today. It was a tough match and close match,” Alcaraz said. “I could say I didn’t start well, and in this level, quarter-final of a Grand Slam, you are playing against the best players in the world, so you have to start the match better than I did today.
“I have to improve for the next Grand Slam or next matches. But I would say I’m not far away from reaching a semi-final or being able to win a Grand Slam… I would say I have the level, I have the confidence to win a Grand Slam or reach the semi-finals next time.”
Nadal and Zverev will get two full days of rest until their Friday semifinal, which is also the day of Nadal’s 36th birthday.
Tomorrow, Holger Rune will try to be the teen to make the last four. The Dane takes on Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev meets Marin Cilic. All four are seeking a first French semifinal and only Cilic has been to a Slam final four before.
WEDNESDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe CHATRIER – Début à 12h00
1 SD Q Veronika KUDERMETOVA (—) contre Daria KASATKINA (—)
2 SD Q Iga SWIATEK (POL) contre Jessica PEGULA (USA)
3 SM Q Andrey RUBLEV (—) contre Marin CILIC (CRO)
Pas avant 20h45
4 SM Q Casper RUUD (NOR) contre Holger RUNE (DEN)
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