As Maximum Tenth Meridio, that character to whom Russell Crowe gave voice and body in the now legendary Gladiator, Novak Djokovic takes the absolute recognition. Although this time there is no Commodity who takes the Colosseum’s disapproval from the other side: it is that the vanquished is none other than Rafael Nadal, an emperor whom in Paris it is loved and revered.
Serbian crushes, plays tennis throughout the match, but especially in the last set, which makes spanish look human; something that on the Parisian brick dust is practically impossible.
The final plate will say that it was 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) and 6-2 in 4 hours and 11 minutes for the man from the former Yugoslavia, who will play the final against the greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic raises his arms and Paris falls at his feet. Photo EFE
It is the third defeat that Nadal suffers in Paris in 108 duels, the second at the hands of Nole, number 1 in the world, the only one who has managed to defeat him on French soil (now in a record number of two occasions) together with the Swede Robin Soderling.
It was after a huge game, a tribute to powder tennis between the two best tennis players on that surface, an extraordinary award for the Serbian who, finally, managed to defeat the Spanish in full capacity.
In 2015 he did it with a Rafa physically and psychologically impaired and the others were all Spanish triumphs.
It was a duel in which the two tennis players showed that They are capable of breaking the laws of tennis, the antipandemic laws, the laws of nature. The public was able to attend the show until the end, because the authorities allowed it despite the curfew. Sensible. The size of the spectacle could not be taken away from the town as if it were a lollipop removed from the mouth.
Nadal took the steamroller out from the start, lifted two break points and put up fifth all the way to go 5-0. Serbian it took 35 minutes to score a point, but when he did, he chained 3, after making the fifth break-point good and lifting two set points from the Spaniard.
Nadal did not decompose, who waited for his next serve to close the sleeve, an hour after the start.
Nadal celebrates. It had its moments, but it could not with the solidity of Djokovic. Photo Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
Djokovic’s improvement at the end of the first set was confirmed in the second: the Serbian was more incisive, more settled at your service and, above all, more aggressive in the return, which made blood in Nadal’s game, forced to go to the limit.
The Spanish defended himself and created his opportunities, but it was not fine when it comes to taking advantage of them. Up to five break points wasted, against just one convert.
The draw did not sit well with Nadal, blurred, timid with his service, attacked with the return, which did not carburize, which gave wings to the Serbian, aggressive from the back of the field, always putting pressure on the Spanish, who seemed doomed to drift.
Night fell in Paris and Nadal he gave his worst face, hung by a thread, pending a blow from the Serbian, clinging on with courage, subjected to merciless harassment.
With 5-4 Djokovic served to take the set, but Nadal he always sells his skin expensively. He reacted to tie at 5 and accelerated to enjoy, in the next game, a set point.
But the Serbian rebuilt, lifted it and forced the playoff game, where it was more solid to place 2-1.
The show was tremendous on the track and the grandstand did not want to miss it. “We will not leave, we will not leave!”the 5,000 authorized fans chanted, as the 23:00 curfew approached.
As the players retired to the changing rooms, when the float was about to turn into a pumpkin, the public address system announced against all odds that, according to the French authorities, they could stay. It seemed difficult to evacuate. Applause and cheers in the stands, joy to continue watching the fantastic duel of the titans. “Merci Macron!” and let the show continue.
La Marseillaise sounds and the battle continues. Give and take. He began hitting the Spanish, who snatched the service of number 1, but his reaction was quick, he recovered it to the fourth and there his best version appeared, the one he needed to defeat the 13-time champion.
Nadal asked for assistance to remove a bandage from his left foot and Djokovic smelled the blood, advanced pawns and cornered the Spanish, who saw how waterways were once again opening on his waterline.
The night was already closed and the public felt that they were witnessing a historical moment. His breath was not enough. The ovation when he retired was emotional. Tomorrow, when it dawns again in Paris, the only Nadal that can be seen at Roland Garros will be the steel one that, forever, adorns the tournament in tribute to its king.
With information from EFE.