Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in quarterfinal thriller at French Open

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Rafael Nadal continued his clay-court dominance as he defeated Novak Djokovic to win their highly-anticipated quarterfinal match at the French Open on Tuesday. 

In the back and forth match that felt like a tournament final, Nadal outlasted Djokovic in four sets to advance to the semifinals at Roland Garros. Nadal won the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).

The match was the 59th time both players competed against each other, the most in the professional era of tennis between two men. 

Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in quarterfinal thriller at French Open

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, left, congratulates Spain’s Rafael Nadal who won the quarterfinal match in four sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), at the French Open tennis tournament in Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Wednesday, June 1, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in quarterfinal thriller at French Open

“To win against Novak, there is only one way — to play at your best from the first point to the last,” Nadal said. “Tonight has been one of those magic nights for me.”

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The Spaniard entered the match having to play for about four hours and 30 minutes in a five-setter against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round. He also voiced his concerns about having to play the match at night. 

Meanwhile, Djokovic entered the match having not dropped a set at this year’s French Open, but that changed quickly against Nadal, who won the first set 6-2. 

Nadal would go up 3-0 in the second set before Djokovic stormed back, breaking him twice to even the score at 3-3. Djokovic would break Nadal again to win the set 6-4. 

Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in quarterfinal thriller at French Open

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic tries to return the ball to Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Paris. 
(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

In the third set, Nadal responded by breaking Djokovic right out of the gate. He would eventually win the set 6-2. 

The fourth set saw Djokovic break Nadal to go up 2-0 after the Spaniard attempted a drop shot that nearly caught the line. Nadal was seen arguing in disbelief, though the call would stand. 

Djokovic gained a 5-2 lead before Nadal stormed back to even the score at 5-5, holding off a couple of set-point opportunities from the Serbian in the process. 

That fourth set fittingly went to a tiebreak, which Nadal won 7-4 to out the match. 

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Djokovic now leads the series 30-29 but Nadal has the advantage on clay having won 20 of their 28 clay-court meetings. 

It was their 10th meeting at Roland Garros, with Djokovic winning just two of them, including a semifinal victory last year in Paris. They previously competed against each other during the 2020 French Open final, which Nadal won in straight sets.

Nadal also won the Australian Open this year after Djokovic, a record nine-time champion in Melbourne, was deported before the tournament began because of his COVID-19 vaccine status. 

Tuesday’s victory moves the Spaniard r to winning his 14th French Open title. 

Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in quarterfinal thriller at French Open

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his quarterfinal match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in four sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), at the French Open tennis tournament in Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Wednesday, June 1, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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Nadal turns 36 on Friday, the same day he will face No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev in the semifinals.

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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