2022 – Rafael Nadal continues to dominate clay with an epic French Open victory over Novak Djokovic | French Open 2022

When the two biggest opponents came together again at the French Open, many factors spoke in Novak Djokovic’s favour. While he and Rafael Nadal entered the clay-court season filled with uncertainty, only Djokovic has taken significant steps forward since then. Nadal, on the other hand, was still looking for his best after breaking his rib. His preparation was complicated by the flare-up of his chronic foot injury. His level in Paris has been below average so far.

But this is Nadal at Roland Garros, the man who has won 110 at home with just three defeats, and who has shown over the course of 17 years that form and other petty things don’t matter much in the face of unprecedented complete dominance. In the match that began in May and ended in June, Nadal blew up Djokovic in the early stages, then absorbed several tough fights before winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

In the historic Showdown 59 of the never-ending rivalry, Nadal tied his record head-to-head record to 29-30 against Djokovic. He will meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, who played the best big game of his career as he choked off the hype and outpaced the often unpredictable Carlos Alcaraz and erased the hype surrounding a 6-4, 6-4 win. 4-6, 7-6 (7).

When they met for the first time in their careers at those venues and on that particular tour in 2006, Nadal was a one-time Grand Slam champion while Djokovic represented Serbia And the the black Mountain. Sixteen years later, the occasion marked the first time in the Open Era that two players for 20 Grand Slam titles had met.

Nadal got to his seat and set the tone right from the start, making his way down the baseline and trying to unload the historic gauge of his confidence with a forehand on the line. Moved very well and kept responding under a lot of early pressure. In several early matches, Nadal cut Djokovic in the opening match after several draws and then immediately reinforced it.

When Djokovic scored break points in his second game with a short streak of impeccable returns, Nadal stepped up to erase it immediately, breaking the streak for the second time with a resounding forehand.

In those early stages, when the superb Nadal took over the group, Djokovic struggled. His back hand splashed uncharacteristically inadvertent errors, his returns fell for too short a time and he was struggling to keep up. Nadal punished him accordingly, winning four of Djokovic’s first six matches in serving Djokovic and extending 6-2, 3-0 with a double break.

Djokovic stretches to play a forehand against Nadal in the quarter-finals. Photo: Adam Peretti/Getty Images

It was only a matter of time before Djokovic won the match and at that moment he did. Djokovic lowered Nadal’s serve on his return, moving slowly across the baseline as he was the one who dictated the exchange, crushing the ball and hitting Nadal’s front as the Spaniard started the ball with a short kick. Regardless of how he skipped in six of the next seven matches, they played an endless string of grueling matches as Djokovic improved the match.

Djokovic’s level rose a lot, but it didn’t last. Nadal opened the third set with his constant attempt to reach the net and quickly broke serve again. Djokovic tried to keep up. Played a 3-1 sloppy match and offered a double break with a back foul. With Djokovic’s errors continuing to flow, there will be no reaction in the third set.

But the momentum only continued. Djokovic bounced back after returning from his serve and landed countless returns at Nadal’s feet. By the time he broke his serve in Nadal’s opening match, he was back to the top of the baseline, holding down Nadal and giving himself a chance to serve the group. But Nadal attacked and saved two set points and then fired a forehand from inside to outside in the first half.

When the tiebreak began in the fourth set, Nadal went up. He scored a better forehand at the finish line than he had since the first set. He pinned three consecutive forehand winners to start the tiebreak and with each point the task for Djokovic became more bleak. His time at Nadal’s home that year ended with a thunderous backhand that won the Spaniard’s racket down the line.

Earlier on Tuesday night, Zverev played one of the best big games of his young career, staying solid against Alcaraz and erasing the hype surrounding wins 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7). . With his victory, Zverev achieved an outstanding achievement by claiming his top ten Grand Slam win for the first time in his career.

In particular, Zverev, once the young big hope of the Tour himself, made a stark reminder of his skills and the threat he poses to the best players at the top of his game. In the meantime, Alcaraz fought to the end and left his first Grand Slam tournament with Budrus that would boost his growth even more. Alcaraz said: “I leave the field, I leave the tournament with my head held high.” I fight to the last ball. I fought until the last second of the match and I’m proud of that.”