On at 19:12 CEST
The central Philippe Chatrier. Not before 5.30 p.m. Seven months after October 11, 2020, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will set foot on the track at Roland Garros with a single obsession. The victory. This time the title is not at stake but if to win the great rival. Closing the door on more records or preventing you from approaching them. A maximum challenge. A challenge between “two born survivors & rdquor ;, Carlos Moyà announced yesterday. The great shock expected since the draw matched them to cross in the semifinals.
“It will be a nice battle. I think I can beat him, otherwise I wouldn’t be here & rdquor ;, assured Djokovic before his confrontation with Nadal, even with the adrenaline rush of his victory against Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5) and 7-5.
The world number 1 had just passed a litmus test in which he walked on the wire of defeat after having been able to decide in three sets with 5-4 and serve in the ‘tie break’. Two unforced errors forced him to play two more sets in which he was cornered for which he came out the winner in anger after 3 hours and 28 minutes. It was a good test for the semifinal that awaits him today.
“The biggest challenge that can be seen today on clay and against Nadal& rdquor ;, announced the Serbian tennis player. At stake is the possibility of continuing in search of the 21 Grand
Slam for Nadal or the option to prevent it for Djokovic. A match that does not make him “bloody grace & rdquor; For the Mallorcan to make it a semifinal because whoever wins both will have the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alexander Zverev, which will not be easy either.
DOMAIN ON LAND
With 57 clashes, Nadal and Djokovic are the two tennis players who have crossed their rackets the most times since the Open era (1968). In the general calculation, the number 1 dominates 29-28 although on earth the difference is very favorable to the Mallorcan who has won 19 of 25 games and, of them, seven at Roland Garros with a single defeat in 2015 (7-5, 6-3, 6-1). Since then Djokovic has only been able to beat him one more time in Monte Carlo (7-5, 7-6) a year later. And in the last five matches on clay he has only snatched two sets, the last the defeat a few weeks ago in Rome (7-5, 1-6, 6-3).
“That match is a benchmark & rdquor ;, assured Carlos Moyà, after training with Nadal on court number 2 at Roland Garros, where the Majorcan prepares these last rounds every year. Matter of superstition. Djokovic took over afterwards.
Nadal spent more than an hour fine-tuning his punches, paying special attention to the right, the drops and the serve, along with Francis Roig, who joined the team’s bubble on Monday, and Rafael Maymó, his physiotherapist and friend.
They did not prepare anything special for the game or it was not seen on the court.
“We have studied Djokovic very well. We know how he plays and how good he is, but here it is up to him to move to make the game more difficult& rdquor ;, Moyà valued, avoiding any extra pressure, he said.
Moyà exuded tranquility. “Rafa is fine and we know he can play better. He has had moments of pressure and other very bright ones. We will try to lengthen these. We trust Rafa. This is Roland Garros and Philippe Chatrier & rdquor ;, insisted the 1998 Roland Garros champion.
The former tennis player stressed that last year they arrived in Paris with more doubts. The tournament was played under other conditions that were unusual for Nadal in Paris. But then in the final against Djokovic he was overwhelmed. “That day everything turned out spectacular. Rafa gave a master class. The 2020 level will be difficult to beat. I’m content to match it & rdquor ;.