Nadal ‘vs’ Djokovic: ‘déjà vu’ in the center of the earth

The Spaniard, who overwhelmed him in the last final and beat him again a few weeks ago in Rome, starts as a clear favorite.

Novak Djokovic y Rafa Nadal, en Roland Garros 2021.AFP

There is an inevitable retro point before the 58 game between Rafael Nadal Y Novak Djokovic (This Friday, not before 5.30 p.m., DMax, Veo TV channel). At 1:00 p.m., Stefanos Tsitsipas play versus Alexander Zverev, in the first semifinal. Since they met precisely here, at Roland Garros, in the 2006 quarter-finals, when the Serbian retired due to injury with an adverse double 6-4, a series of proportions unimaginable then has been built, no matter how much they already began. to make it clear that we were facing two tennis players of little time.

I have said before that I rival them with him and with Roger [Federer] It has made me a stronger player, it has allowed me to understand what I needed to improve when I started in professional tennis to get to the level they were at. But yes, I would probably choose Rafa as the biggest adversary I have ever had in my career. The preparation for a match against him, in any match, on any surface, on any occasion, is always different from any other, says the world number 1, who dominates the sequence 29-28, but was surpassed in the last two. crosses, both on land.

The appointment, like a good part of agree In these times, it has a colossal dimension. On October 9, Nadal defeated him 6-0, 6-2 and 7-5, with one of the most conclusive scores in this long shared history, to win his thirteenth title on these tracks and equal the 20 Grand titles. Federer slam. The Serbian, at 18, is also no stranger to that race.

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“It was a master class”

They have been measured in three finals (2012, 2014 and 2020) on these tracks, all of them favorable to Nadal, but the most recent one is still in everyone’s memory. I sign to match the level back then. It was a master class on how to play tennis on clay. And in conditions that theoretically do not favor him. The adaptability it has is spectacular. If we had put together a script we would not have come out as perfect as reality, I remembered yesterday Carlos moy, just finished Nadal’s training. They also did it in the semifinals of 2013, with the southpaw triumphing in the only cross in this tournament in which they went to five sets. Djokovic, however, is, together Robin Soderling, the only player to have beaten Nadal in this tournament: he did so in the quarterfinals of 2015, in three sets.

As usual, Nadal’s pace has been much firmer. His reaction to Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals, after losing the first set in the tournament for the past two years, it was spectacular. Djokovic raised two adverse sets in the second round against the debutant Lorenzo Musetti, before he dropped out 4-0 down in the fifth.

He finished his quarterfinal match against Matteo Berrettini around midnight on Friday, erratic and victim of various adversities, such as the stoppage of the game for more than 20 minutes to evict the public at 11:00 p.m., following the restrictions derived from the pandemic. Overtaken again by Nadal in the recent final in Rome, the 2016 champion rarely seemed so far behind in the contest with the Spaniard. Not even his best version could be enough to refute the forecasts.

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