Once again, world No. 4 Rafael Nadal has proven why he is the best on clay. Saturday’s semifinal win moved Nadal into the French Open final and one step closer to another victory at Roland Garros.
Neither Nadal nor world No. 1 Novak Djokovic had faced any significant challenges leading up to the semifinals. That was a good thing because they knew they had to bring their A-game.
Both men had a goal in mind. Simply put, they wanted to reach the final.
A French Open win for Nadal would mean hoisting the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the eighth time.
For Djokovic, a French Open win would mean completing a career Grand Slam, while also honoring Jelena Gencic, his former coach, mentor and “second mother,” who discovered him at the age of six and who recently passed way.
Only one man would have the chance of reaching the final and potentially seeing his dream come true by winning it.
The matchup between these two players has become one of the most anticipated on any surface, but on clay, it's the apex of competition for these two tennis giants, and this match would not disappoint.
Nadal won the first and third sets, and it seemed as if he would pull out the win in the fourth, as he served for the match at 5-6. But Djokovic came back, leveled things at 6-6, forcing a tiebreaker, which Djokovic would win, 7-3, sending this marathon match into a fifth set.
In the fifth set, it seemed as if Nadal might have some concerns, as Djokovic came out firing on all cylinders, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. But Nadal’s determination would not waiver. At 7-8, he got the break, taking the fifth and securing the win, 7-9.
The final results were: 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(3), 7-9.
Nadal now awaits the winner of the matchup between world No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and world No. 5 David Ferrer in the other men’s semifinal.
The men’s final will take place on Sunday.