At the end of a stunning match, at a staggering level of play, Novak Djokovic overthrew Rafael Nadal in a highly charged atmosphere.
Special envoy to Roland-Garros
The atmosphere : At 7:10 pm, the Philippe Chatrier court finds itself plagued by the shadows at the time of the long-awaited duel. The two boxers do not observe an observation round. The tone is set, there will not be the slightest downtime. The spectators ready to vibrate, evenly divided between the “Rafa” and the “Nole”, from time to time throw a worried glance at the clock because of the curfew at 11:00 pm. At 22:19, under the spell of a breathless match, the spectators intone: “We will not leave …”, in memory of the evening cut short during the match between Djokovic and Berrettini (the spectators had been asked to leave at 3-2 in the 4e set). At 10:39 p.m., after Djokovic won the 3e set, the announcer announces: “In agreement with the authorities, the match will come to an end in your presence.” His words are covered by the demonstrations of the crowd which dreads the signal to leave. He repeats, translated into English. In the presidential platform, Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Federation applauds. The spectators shout their joy.
The turning point of the match : Breaké entry (in 9 ‘), Novak Djokovic may try everything, he finds himself behind 5-0 after 30’. Before finding the strength not to let go. To courage, the Serbian hangs his first game after 35 ‘. He hides the bad memory of the 2020 final started by a lost set 6-0, a failed start from which he could not recover. In the process, the Serbian steals his service from Rafael Nadal, stops the bleeding and returns to 5-3 by pocketing his throw-in. If he finally loses the set, Novak Djokovic has regained his composure and his game of consistency. The standoff will keep all of its promises. The level will reach new heights.
The game : Laser returns, cushioning, lightning races, impossible blows struck at the end of the race, staggering angles, staggering counter-feet, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal competed in daring and skill to stay hooked on this match. Multiplication of breaks (8 break points converted out of 22 for Djokovic; 6/16 for Nadal), amazing winning shots, the gladiators carried by the atmosphere did not want to give in. Always quick to revive. If the final of the 2012 Australian Open (won by Djokovic), the semi-final of Roland Garros 2013 (won by Nadal) or the semi-final of Wimbledon 2018 (snatched by Djokovic) shone like unforgettable matches, the semi-final of Roland-Garros will sneak into this best of. At 11:20 p.m., on his second match point, Novak Djokovic propelled himself into the final 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in 4:11.
At the state. Under the cheers of a standing audience, Rafael Nadal left the arena with a thumbs up and a heavy heart. The Spaniard recorded his third defeat at Roland Garros (after those conceded against Robin Söderling in the round of 16 in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals in 2015). Nadal (13 titles), has 105 victories and, therefore, 3 defeats at Roland Garros.
And now ? Novak Djokovic, winner in 2016, unfortunate finalist in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016, can on Sunday become the first player of the Open era to win all Grand Slam tournaments twice. In front of him will stand Stefanos Tsitsipas who will live his first major final after having dismissed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in 3:37. Novak Djokovic won 5 of the 7 matches played against the young Greek (including the 3 played on clay).
The phrase. Still reeling from a breathtaking match, Novak Djokovic summed up on the court: “It was a privilege to be with Rafa for this incredible match. It is surely the greatest that I have played in Paris. And in the most beautiful atmosphere, the most beautiful atmosphere, the most beautiful energy. It’s hard to win against Rafa, you have to play your best tennis. It was the night of my best tennis. It’s hard to find the words to explain the pressure, what it means to play against him here. ”