Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic: When Drama Unfolded at French Open

Published 03/11/2020, 12:53 AM EDT


In the era of epic matches, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have produced many marathon battles. There are some standout matches that the two arch-rivals have played against each other. The French Open 2013 semifinal was one such pulsating contest between the two legends. However, why is the match regarded as one of the most remarkable matches in the history of Roland Garros?

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The Roland Garros 2013 semifinal was the doppelganger of their Australian Open final from the previous year. The nerve-wracking match in Melbourne lasted almost 6 hours and went to Djokovic 7-5 in the fifth set. Similarly, the see-saw saga in Paris came to an end after four hours and 37 minutes. However, this time Nadal found the edge 9-7 in the fifth set.

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Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic: The stirring display of tennis

Nadal and Djokovic played one of the most engrossing semi-finals in the history of tennis. The Serbian was attempting to defeat Nadal for the first time at the French Open. On the other hand, Nadal was making a comeback after missing seven months with a knee injury and reaching his first Grand Slam final after a year.

Both the players could not decipher the brilliant shot-making that their opponent was pulling off. The Spaniard was in disbelief with Novak’s line touching returns. On the other hand, Djokovic was awestruck with Rafa’s impossible shot-making as the Spaniard dug deep on every point.

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Drama in every step of the way

Nadal failed to serve out the match in the fourth set as the 17-time Grand Slam winner played a gutsy game, denying his opponent a straightforward match. Novak then played some sensational tennis, hitting line-licking winners and claiming the fourth set.

Furthermore, Djokovic was on the verge of becoming only the second player in 59 matches to beat the ‘King of Clay’ at the French Open. He cruised to a 4-2 lead in the final set. The merciless rallies continued, however, Nole made a match-changing blunder – letting slip his serve as the Mallorcan refused to yield.

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Tension rose as the games ticked by with both the players keeping the opponent on their toes. However, Nadal was getting on Djokovic’s nerves as the latter missed several smashes and was also unhappy with the court. He also complained to the umpire about the slippery court as he lost focus towards the end.

Subsequently, the Spaniard proved stronger as the final set headed past one hour and 20 minutes. Nadal fired a forehand winner to earn three match points. Djokovic, who looked edgier, hit a tired forehand over the baseline. The then 7-time French Open champion reached his eighth final in Paris, defeating Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 9-7.

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Two years later, Novak improved upon his game to defeat Nadal for the second time at the French Open since 2005. However, the 19-time Grand Slam champion has proved to be invincible on the Parisian clay with a winning percentage of 97.89%. It will be interesting to see if Djokovic can defeat Nadal again and complete his double career Grand Slam.

 

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Varun Khanna

1334 articles

Starting off as a tennis author in 2018, Varun Khanna has gone on to contribute to EssentiallySports in various capacities. After setting up interviews with the likes of Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Alizé Cornet, and Noah Rubin, Varun is now part of all major ATP and WTA press conferences and has gone on to pen more than 1300 articles for EssentiallySports. He now heads the tennis and NBA division of the organization.

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