Rafael Nadal proved naysayers wrong as he showcased that he would continue his reign on the Parisian clay by outclassing World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in an epic 4-set quarter-final match on Tuesday. The 35-year-old, who was ousted in the semi-final last year, avenged his defeat to Djokovic and looks set to capture his 14th Roland Garros crown.
There were doubts over Nadal’s participation in French Open 2022 as he had headed into the clay-court season after being sidelined for 6 weeks due to a rib injury. Nadal’s preparations for the clay-court Grand Slam weren’t ideal as he was bogged down by a foot injury flaring up. in fact, the Spaniard had headed to the Roland Garros without a title on the clay court.
However, a day after beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in only his 3rd 5-setter in 113 matches at Roland Garros, Nadal battled past Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in 4 hours and 12 minutes.
Nadal, while discussing his chronic injury issues after the last 16 win highlighted his lack of control over the situation, saying he never knows when the machine could stop.
“Being honest, every match that I play here I do not know if it will be the last match here in Roland-Garros in my tennis career. That is my situation now,” Nadal had said.
And when Marion Bartoli asked Nadal about returning for next year, Nadal remained guarded and said that his focus right now was on Friday’s semi-final against Alexander Zverev. Notably, Nadal will battle against the German on his 36th birthday.
“See you in two days, that’s all I can say,” Nadal said during the on-court interview after his quarter-final victory.
‘MAGIC NIGHT FOR ME’
Nadal dismissed doubts over his fitness as he produced an incredible level of tennis, especially in the 4th set after going down 0-2 early against Djokovic, who was looking to ride the momentum.
“It was really special. It was a very tough match, Novak is one of the best players in history and all the history we have. There is only one way to beat Novak and that is to play at your best.
“And today was a magic night for me. Unexpected level from me,” Nadal added.
Nadal improved his Roland Garros record to 110-3 as he looks set to capture a 22nd Grand Slam title and leave Djokovic and Roger Federer, who are tied on 20 each, well behind.