News : Djokovic beats Nadal in Paris: tennis from the fifth dimension – sport
It happened at 11:21 p.m. No, no, the Eiffel Tower hadn’t collapsed. But something like that. Rafael Nadal had lost. In Paris. In Roland Garros. His Roland Garros. On his Terre Battue. And, one must also emphasize that: in a sporty way. Nadal didn’t give up, nobody was injured, everything took place under optimal conditions. 3: 6, 6: 3, 7: 6 (4), 6: 2 – these were the numbers. But presented so soberly, they never give an idea of what had happened there, forever and ever. Andy Murray, the great Scot, the three-time Grand Slam winner and, more importantly, a classifier of important issues, tweeted during the game: “You can’t play clay tennis better than that. It’s perfect.” The winner saw it, what a surprise, exactly like that.
“To beat Rafa on clay here, you have to play your best tennis,” said Novak Djokovic, “and I played my best tennis today.” Nadal, 20 Grand Slam titles difficult, had already left the place where the two had chased each other for so long. It was 4:10 hours at the end. In the meantime, chaos threatened, because the curfew was actually scheduled from 11 p.m. But then that rule was actually overridden. The 5,000 spectators, ecstatically charged, could stay – and sang the Marseillaise. Someone tweeted: “Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal just finished Covid-19.” The 35-year-old Spaniard, the 34-year-old Serb, they drove all viewers crazy.
The overture set the pace, the script. First service game Nadal, two breakballs Djokovic, three debut, what felt like an eternity all of that. The fact that it was later 5-0 for Nadal was crazy, almost cynical, given the intensity of the rallies. Ultimately, Nadal won the set 6: 3, but only won nine points more. Yes, in hardly any sport do numbers sometimes lie like they do in tennis. Because if you score a thousand points, but never that one decisive point, the one to win the game, the one to win the set, the one to win the match, all efforts are of no use.
Nadal has now lost three times in 108 games in Paris
It was then Djokovic who spoiled the game and made Nadal appear more and more often, the 13-time winner of Paris, the record holder. Djokovic straddled and twisted and did gymnastics as if he were the rebirth of Mikhail Baryshnikov. The angles with which both of them placed their balls came from the fifth dimension, so earthly laws at least didn’t work there to explain the level of play. The lines, by the way, basically didn’t have to be cleaned after each set. They were polished to a shine because they had both played the balls so precisely on them so often.
The game didn’t really turn, but built up like a flood at the very highest level. Nadal sometimes didn’t seem as flawless as he had usually done here. Sometimes he actually put the ball an inch off the baseline. At this level, the mistakes moved. Otherwise they beat each other into the field, and Djokovic was simply a shade more active, more agile and, yes, maybe even hotter to win.
But how do you want to measure all of this? “That was the best match I played in Paris,” said Djokovic. Nadal has now lost three times in 108 games in Paris. Once, in 2009, against the Swede Robin Söderling. Twice now against Djokovic (2015, 2021). He can now fight for his 19th Grand Slam title on Sunday, against the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, who had previously defeated Alexander Zverev in five sets (6: 3, 6: 3, 4: 6, 4: 6, 6: 3). With that, the Serb would have come close to Nadal and Roger Federer from Switzerland except for one. These French Open still have something to offer until the end.