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Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic Praised for 'Breathtaking' 4-Set French Open Thriller

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 31, 2022

ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images

Maybe it's time to rename it Rafa Garros.

Rafael Nadal bested longtime rival Novak Djokovic on Tuesday in French Open quarterfinals action, moving one step closer to a 14th Roland Garros triumph behind yet another absolutely classic match.

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

🤩 What a set! What a comeback! 🤩 <br><br> 🤔 Is 14 next for <a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> ?<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> <a href="https://t.co/0Wa4mjZoau">pic.twitter.com/0Wa4mjZoau</a>

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

Cutting shapes 🕺📐<a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> <a href="https://t.co/gvgMh9eaCF">pic.twitter.com/gvgMh9eaCF</a>

Nadal wrapped it up in four sets, but it was a marathon of a match, with his 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) victory lasting over four hours.

As always when these two titans of the sport face off, Tuesday's match was one for the books:

Stefan Karajovanovic @StefKarajo

Djokovic vs Nadal is a breathtaking match WOW.

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpears

Can't think of a better rivalry in sports today. Not a huge tennis fan, but if Nadal and Djokovic are playing I'm tuning in.

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

Novak Djokovic beating Nadal in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> semifinals last year was one of the greatest wins of his career.<br><br>Rafael Nadal beating Djokovic in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> quarterfinals tonight was one of the greatest wins of his career.<br><br>6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4).<br><br>4h12m<br><br>1:15 am.

Charean Williams @NFLCharean

Just give Rafael Nadal the keys to Paris. He owns it. Wow! What a match.

Richard Heath @richheath47

The standard of this Nadal v Djokovic match is unreal. To go at it with this quality for over 4 hours is ridiculous

José Morgado @josemorgado

INCREDIBLE in Paris... again!<br><br>13 times champion Rafael Nadal comes back from 2-5 down in the 4th set to beat #1 and defending champ Novak Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) in 4h10 and reach the semifinals at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RolandGarros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RolandGarros</a> for a 15th time.<br><br>36th career Grand Slam semifinal. <a href="https://t.co/ZPHJnBeRRb">pic.twitter.com/ZPHJnBeRRb</a>

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

Nadal does it again, still alive for his 14th French Open title. 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in a bruising match of four-plus hours. After needing five sets to beat Auger-Aliassime two days ago, does he have enough gas left to reach the finish line one more time?

No One Negative Face @la_jupiter8

If you want to know what an emotional rollercoaster is like, you need to watch a Nadal vs Djokovic tennis match 🙃

Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN

Nadal and Djokovic have been playing since Saturday.

How good is this rivalry? The all-time series is now 30-29 in favor of Djokovic.

It's incredible that Nadal, at 35 years old and clearly battling through the lingering effects of several ongoing injuries, can still play at this level against elite competition.

But it was just as incredible to watch Djokovic, himself 35, push the greatest player in the history of the French Open to such lengths, never giving an inch.

"Against Novak there is only one way to play, at your best from the first point to last," Nadal said after the match.

It is rare, if not unparalleled, to see the three greatest players in the history of their sport play at the same time. But such has been the case for men's tennis in the past two decades, as Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer have wrestled for the crown.

It is Nadal, with 21 Grand Slam triumphs, who holds the lead over his rivals, with Djokovic and Federer just behind at 20 apiece. Perhaps it will be 22 soon enough.

Who will bet against Nadal at this point?

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