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French Open 2022: Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in the more than four-hour duel of legends at Roland-Garros

French Open 2022: Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in the more than four-hour duel of legends at Roland-Garros
Written by insideindyhomes

The 59th Duel of the Legends was intense from the start and at the highest level. After 25 minutes of play, it was just 2-1 from Nadal’s point of view.

It was also the record champion who had the better arguments on the Philippe-Chatrier court.

The break to 1:0, the slightly better serves, more winners (12:8) and fewer unforced errors (6:9) deservedly brought Nadal the set lead.

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Nadal seamlessly picked up where he left off. The 35-year-old even managed a double break at the beginning of the second set and pulled away 3-0.

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The preliminary decision? Not at all. Djokovic suddenly returned to the set and played three games in a row.

“There’s something wrong with Rafa. He tries to hit the winner with the forehand and doesn’t stand properly with the ball. The same applies to the backhand longline,” wondered Mischa Zverev, who accompanied the game as a TV expert for Eurosport.

outburst of emotion! Djokovic celebrates first lead in the match

When Djokovic made it 4: 3, the second set was already 64 minutes old. “Novak is moving like a machine now. He’s always the same, always good on the ball,” Zverev praised the Serb, who now had the momentum on his side and equalized a little later.

As a result, the game took another turn. Nadal managed the break to 1-0, in the fifth game he took the service game from the defending champion again and shortly afterwards brought his game through to 6-2.

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Djokovic dominates set 4 – but Nadal comes back

Djokovic then succeeded in the fourth set, which he had never succeeded in before. The Serb brought his first service game through and also directly won his opponent’s first service game. Up to the score of 5: 3, the Djoker managed his service comparatively easily, but then Nadal forced him again via debut.

It got louder in the stands, the tension was almost palpable – and Nadal fought for the first breakball of the set with a strong backhand return and subsequent forehand winner. Djokovic kept his nerve and defended, but suffered another breakball after a backhand error.

“There are phases when one can read the other better,” noted Mischa Zverev. “And right now that’s Rafa!” The Eurosport expert guessed what should happen after 46 minutes in the sentence. Nadal got the break to 4: 5 and equalized a little later to 5: 5 – the set went into the tie break, where both players have an identical balance this year: 9: 2.

The match ball: Nadal makes victory clear with a brute backhand

Ultimate showdown in the tiebreak

Nadal started the tie-break with the mini-break and then brought his two serves through to make it 3-0. Djokovic then benefited from a backhand from the Spaniard that was a few centimeters too long, but shortly afterwards put a ball behind the baseline himself. The right to serve changed back to Nadal when the score was 4-1.

The Mallorquin once again benefited from two mistakes made by his opponent and had five match points when the score was 6:1. Djokovic fended off the first three, but the time had come in the fourth attempt. After 4:11 hours, Nadal raised his arms in relief and once again made it clear that he is rightly called the clay court king.

In the semifinals on Friday, the 35-year-old will meet Alexander Zverev, who defeated shooting star Carlos Alcaraz in four sets 6: 4, 6: 4, 4: 6, 7: 6 (9: 7) in the early evening.

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“Playing against Novak is a big task. He is one of the best in the history of our sport. There is only one way to win against him: you have to push yourself to your absolute limit,” Nadal said in the on-court Interview and thanked the viewers in French.

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