Nadal beats Djokovic in gruelling four hour French Open quarter-final

Nadal beats Djokovic in gruelling four hour French Open quarter-final
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Credit: Belga

Rafael Nadal won a decisive victory against Novak Djokovic at the quarter-finals of the French Open, demonstrating once again why he is one of the greatest players in Rolland Garros' history.

Following his victory against longtime rival Novak Djokovic, Nadal will face third-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the men's singles semi-finals on Friday.

Nadal went for his 14th title and began the match with a strong start and fought off defending champion Djokovic winning 6-2 4-6 6-1 and 7-6 at Roland Garros. Victory was secured at 01:15 local time on Tuesday night after playing on the court for four hours.

"To win against Novak there is only one way: to play your best from the first point to the last," said 35-year-old Nadal.

Germany's Zverev, who is 25, secured his ticket to the semi-finals for the second year in a row after beating 19-year-old Spanish Carlos Alcaraz earlier on Tuesday.

The win for fifth seed Nadal made up for his semi-final defeat by Djokovic last year and expanded his already gleaming Roland Garros record to 110 wins in 113 matches. "This is one of those magic nights," Nadal added.

The rivalry between the two tennis legends is longstanding in men's tennis, but Djokovic conceded gracefully: "Nadal showed why he is a great champion and stayed mentally tough. No doubt he deserves it."

Key points

It was an intense match that gripped the crowd in Paris on Tuesday night, with a surprising twist when Djokovic lost momentum in the fourth set although he had led 5-2.

A lack of high level matches has possibly cost him given that he didn't play the Australian Open, and hasn't played a match longer than three sets since the US semi-finals in September last year.

Instead, he courted controversy for his decision to remain unvaccinated, which lead Australian authorities to deny him entry to the country.

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Although Nadal has won a key victory over Djokovic, he still has to win the final to add to his 21 Grand Slam palmares. The 35-year-old Spaniard thought he would have to retire at the end of last year due to injuries, including a foot problem which was an issue for him at the Italian Open earlier this month. A stress fracture of the rib also meant that he lost out on two months of the season.

Turning 36 later this week, Nadal is likely to be grateful for a day of rest before Friday's semi-final after spending over eight hours on the court during his last two matches.

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