French Open: Novak Djokovic dethrones Rafael Nadal after epic semi-final victory

French Open: Novak Djokovic dethrones Rafael Nadal after epic semi-final victory
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French Open: Novak Djokovic dethrones Rafael Nadal after epic semi-final victory 

Highlights

In what turned out to be one of the greatest matches on the Roland Garros clay, Novak Djokovic dethrone Rafael Nadal in his fortress in Paris with an incredible four-set win in the semi-final on Friday.

In what turned out to be one of the greatest matches on the Roland Garros clay, Novak Djokovic dethrone Rafael Nadal in his fortress in Paris with an incredible four-set win in the semi-final on Friday.

Djokovic defeated the 13-time champion 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to qualify for the final, where he'll take on Greek ace Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday. The 22-year-old Tsitsipas reached his maiden Grand Slam final by beating German sixth seed Alexander Zverev in a five-set thriller earlier on Friday.

The defending champion Nadal, who was aiming for a record-extending 14th title in the French Open, suffered only his third loss in as many as 108 games. Beating Nadal in the Roland Garros was considered one of the toughest tasks in the entire sport and if anyone was going to achieve that, it was Djokovic.

The third seed Nadal kickstarted the game on a high, leading 5-0 before Djokovic fought back but not good enough to save the set, which was sealed 6-3 by the Spaniard. The World No. 1 bounced back to the take the second set 6-3.

Then came the third set, which lasted for over an hour. It saw several ups and downs, twists and turns and was no less than a roller coaster ride for both the players. Djokovic broke Nadal at 3-2 and then at 3-3, they were still going neck-to-neck after being on the court for nearly three hours.

After Djokovic failed to serve out the set at 5-4, Nadal saved two more break points to lead 6-5. World No. 1 Serbian saved a set point before he forced a tie breaker at 6-6. Nadal started the tie break, unfortunately, with a double fault and then mistimed a volley at 4-4. Djokovic, with two serves for the set, produced a timely ace before he chased down a drop-shot. After 98 minutes, Djokovic snatched the third set 7-6.

There were around 5,000 spectators in the stands, who were being thoroughly entertained by the two superstars. The fans were allowed to stay despite France's 11pm curfew as part of its coronavirus restrictions. That decision came after a remarkable third set that lasted for over an hour before Djokovic went two sets up to one.

Nadal once again started the fourth set by breaking Djokovic and went 2-0 up. However, from there on, he could not cope with the Serbian's game. Djokovic just zoomed away with the set and game as he won six consecutive games to seal the fourth set 6-2.

After the memorable contest, Djokovic said the semi-final win over Nadal was "one of the top three matches in my life."

"It was one of these matches you can remember forever. It was one of the top three matches in my life. To win against Rafa on this court you have to play your best tennis, and tonight I played my best tennis. It's hard to find the words to sum up how I feel. You tell yourself there is no pressure but there is. Pressure is a privilege - to test my game and my character in matches like this," Djokovic was quoted as saying in a post-match interview.

Speaking about the crowd in the stadium, Djokovic said," Considering what we were living through in this match before the announcement, I think both of us wanted the crowd to stay. We both had tremendous support. These are the kind of matches we continue to play tennis for."

"I had the big chance with a set point at 6-5 on his second serve. That's it. Anything could happen at that moment. Then I make a double-fault and missed an easy volley in the tie-break. These kinds of mistakes can happen. But if you want to win, you can't make these mistakes," said Nadal, who was looking to surpass Roger Federer in the tally of Grand Slam titles.

While Federer and Nadal have 20 major titles each, Djokovic has 19 but he could reduce the deficit by one if he manages to win on Sunday.

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