French Open: We are living this sport for such moments – Nadal reacts to facing Djokovic in semi-final
Rafael Nadal defeated Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday in a four-setter quarter-final in the French Open and will now face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the last-four fixture.
In an overall head-to-head, Djokovic leads 29-28 against Nadal as the two are set to meet for a record 58th time in an ATP game on Friday in the ongoing tournament in Paris. This will be their 15th meeting in the semi-finals or later at the Grand Slams, and their ninth contest at Roland Garros.
On being asked about facing Djokovic in the semi-final, Nadal said "it's always a big challenge" before adding that they live the sport for such moments.
"It's always a big challenge. [The] best thing is you know that you need to play your best tennis. It's a match that you know what you have to do if you really want to have chances to succeed and to keep going on [in] the tournament.
That's something that is good because in some ways we are practising [and] we are living the sport for these moments… The negative thing [is that] it's difficult because you play against one of the best players in the [sport's] history," Nadal told ATP's official website after his win over Schwartzman on Wednesday.
Nadal and Djokovic most recently faced off at the Italian Open final, which the Spaniard won in three sets. It was Nadal's 10th title in Italy and with that, he extended his lead to 19-7 on clay against Djokovic.
Many pundits and commentators have termed facing Nadal at the French Open as the hardest task in the whole of tennis as the World No. 3 took his record in Paris to 105-2 at the major tournament since making his debut in 2005. He also had an incredible 26-0 record once he reaches the last-four stage.
Reacting to the above, Nadal gave a humble response, saying he is honored by all the comments that have been made for him at the French Open.
"I am not the one to talk about myself. I can't avoid that I have great numbers here [at] Roland Garros… [The fact] that commentators think about me that way is something that I am proud of. It's an honour for me. Of course, the numbers are just amazing. But I can't think about that now, honestly. Let's talk about that when I finish my career. Now is a moment to be happy. I won an important match today against a tough opponent. I was able to find a way to play my best tennis in the moments that I really needed to.
It's a moment to enjoy today and [I will] try to start preparing for that semi-final in terms of recovery, in terms of practice [a] little bit tomorrow to confirm the good feelings [that I had] at the end of the match," added Nadal in the same interview.
In the ongoing 2021 season, Nadal has lost three games, while he has won 23, including two finals – Barcelona and Rome.