The last Roland Garros of Rafael Nadal? Who can believe it after seeing him defeat Novak Djokovic in another epic battle in his favorite land of Roland Garros and defeat him 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 and 7-6 (4). An incredible show. A titanic effort. “Merci, merci, merci”, he thanked the fans, moved by another victory for the history of tennis and sports. A new lesson from a tireless champion who will celebrate his 36th birthday in Paris next Friday with a semifinal against alexander zverevafter the German tennis player prevented the Spanish duel by beating Carlos Alcaraz by 6-4, 6-4, 4-6 and 7-6 (7).

Tennis night at the Philippe Chatrier and a battle between two heavyweights. On one side of the net Novak Djokovicthe number 1 and the current champion of Roland Garros, to the other Rafael Nadal, thirteen times champion and lord of that red earth.

Fight for more than a title. The winner of 21 Grand Slams against whom he wants to equal the record in his own home. A final advanced to the quarterfinals. A pulse that yesterday added the 59 confrontation. A match for which it was worth paying the 320 euros that the most expensive ticket cost last night.

The fight began without concessions. Nadal He gave the first blow with a ‘break’ (0-1) after 14 minutes of exchanges from side to side of the track. Djokovic he endured, defended himself, attacked looking for Nadal’s liver, but found himself with a second punch in the face. Second ‘break’ (1-4).

The track conditions did not seem to bother Nadal. The left foot was not a problem either. Nadal did not let Djokovic breathe. The public chanted his name. Nadal impassively was looking for the Serb’s liver.

Nadal took the first assault in 51 minutes. After 22 consecutive sets won by Djokovic since the title in Rome, Nadal snatched the first one from him. A group of 50 fans, with white shirts, and bullfighting music celebrated at the top of the stands.

no respite

In the second assault. New kick off. After 15 minutes and seven ‘break points’, Nadal broke the service to Djokovic for the third time (0-1). He repeated in the third game (0-3). Nadal did not let Djokovic breathe. The red Lacoste polo shirt Djokovic It was like a punching bag Nadal hit and hit.

After 1 hour and 23 minutes, Djokovic he achieved his first ‘break’ to get closer to the scoreboard (2-3). The stands lit up with shouts of Nole, Nole! but the temperature dropped from 20 degrees to 16, going down…..

And, after another 15 minutes, 19 points and 5 break points, Djokovic broke Nadal’s serve again, equalizing the score (3-3) and taking command 4-3, for the first time in the match, after another wild exchange of blows and save a ‘break point’.

The level of tennis did not drop. The fight continued. The balls lifted the dirt off the lines. The strings sounded like shots in the silence and tension of the game.Every point was a work of art that lifted the 14,800 fans from their seats. The second round went to Djokovic with a new ‘break’ in the second ‘set ball’ that he had.

Philippe Chatrier’s Rolex showed 2 hours and 25 minutes. The temperature had dropped to 12 degrees. The third assault began. The foot, anesthetized by the doctor Ruiz parrot, endured. And, at the start, Nadal’s ‘break’ (1-0) to take advantage of 2-0 and 3-1, after saving a ‘break point’, and to make a ‘break’ again (4-1) and place 5 -1. Nadal won the third round, after midnight in Paris. But

Maximum tension

Djokovic didn’t want to throw in the towel.. The fight continued. Djokovic he hit his racket against the net for missing a point. Nadal I was arguing with the referee over a ball. The number 1 recovered from the third set that he had almost given away and took advantage with a ‘break’ (2-0), he was ahead 4-1, it seemed that Nadal He would not escape from the fifth round, but he drew strength from where it is not known to equal 6-6 and force the ‘tie break’. After 4 hours, no news of Nadal’s left footwho seemed to hurt even his eyebrows was a Djokovic.

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Nadal He faced the ‘tie break’ as if the game had just started. Goran Ivanisevićin the Serb’s box, could not believe what he saw. Nadal He hit again and again to go 6-1 and in the first ‘match ball’ knock out the champion, number 1, on the ground with a backhand down the line after 4 hours and 11 minutes.

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