“There is extra tension and expectations, different vibes when I go out on the track with Rafa (Nadal). That is why it is a historic rivalry for the sport and I have had the privilege of playing against him many times. He is my biggest opponent. The anticipation of any match, on any surface or occasion, is different from any other“. The author of this sentence is Novak Djokovic and what this duel means cannot be better explained than This Friday (17:30, DMAX and Eurosport) meets its chapter 58 at Roland Garros, 17 in Grand Slams, less than a month after both met in the final of the 1,000 Masters in Rome with the Balearic victory and left the balance of their face to face in a 29-28 that Nadal aspires to match.
The current champion of the French tournament dominates in majors (10-6), in Paris (7-1) and on clay (19-7). They haven’t met in a semi-final since the 2018 Wimbledon semi-final, which was played over two days due to rain and was won by Djokovic in five sets. The winner this time will appear in his 29th final of a great. If he is the Spaniard (35 years old), on Sunday he will have the opportunity to win his 14th title at Roland Garros, 21st of the Slam with which he would break the tie with Roger Federer; if the Balkan prevails (34), he will remain one of the 20 of Rafa and the Swiss. The prize would be huge, with the permission, of course, of the winner of the other semifinal, that of the aspirants Tsitsipas and Zverev, who will face each other before the most repeated duel in tennis history. The final would be an intergenerational clash between a thirty-something and a NextGen exponent born in the late 90s.
“I think I can win, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. We are going to have a nice battle,” warns Djokovic, who is confident in his chances. and bloodshot eyes in this edition (as seen in his brutal celebration after beating Berrettini). He does not want a repeat of the review Nadal gave him in the final last October at the Chatrier: “I hope I can play at a higher level than last year in the first two sets. The quality and level of tennis that I have had for three or four weeks on clay in Rome, Belgrade and here, allow me to have a good feeling and a positive feeling for this match “.
The one from Manacor, meanwhile, analyze so this new confrontation at the top of tennis, which occurs before because he is now number three in the world and the one in Belgrade, one: “Against him you need to play your best tennis. If you do what you must, you will have options. It’s a great challenge and a good thing because it’s what you play for. On the other hand, it’s very difficult. “The two already met once in the penultimate round in Paris, in 2013. Nadal, who won in five rounds, remembers it well: “It was dramatic, there was everything, it was a very exciting game, with a very high level.”
Djokovic has spent only 45 minutes more than Nadal on the track, but with more tension and wear. Today we will see to what extent that is important.
Results, table and calendar.