June 11 will be a date that has been marked by fire on the calendar of Rafa Nadal. However, this time it will not be because of having won Roland Garros, as he usually does year after year on these dates, if not because of a much more fact atypical in its trajectory, lose in the french tournament. With his defeat this Friday at the hands of Novak Djokovic, Nadal was once again thrown out of the Philippe-Chatrier for the third time in its history.
The Serbian also is the only one to have repeated and one of the only two people who can boast of having beaten the Spanish on French clay. A recognition, if possible, at the height of winning the tournament, since the hegemony of the Balearic Islands is unprecedented in the history of the Grand Slams or tennis. 17 appearances at Roland Garros, 13 trophies, 105 victories … and only four eliminations.
For 15 years, only 2004, 2015 and 2016 ended without Rafa Nadal biting a Musketeers Cup.
2009: Soderling and a surprise in ten years
Robin Soderling He became the first person to eliminate Nadal from Roland Garros in 2009, when the Spaniard was just 23 years old … and four trophies already behind him. The Swede gave the surprise winning in the round of 16 by 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 and 7-6 against a Rafa who was far from the level expected of him, without any particular explanation.
Years later, Tsonga and Monfils they assured in a talk that the Spanish I was sick that day. “Rafa will never say it, but we all knew that that week he was sick, that he suffered anginas. That’s the truth. It was not right at all, “they say.
Soderling would end up reaching the final of that edition, being one of the undoubted surprises of that championship, but he succumbed to a Roger Federer who took the opportunity to lift the only Roland Garros of his entire career. A year later, Nadal would take revenge on the Swede in the final to lift his fifth Roland Garros.
2015: Djokovic lives up to expectations
Nadal came to the tournament severely depleted in 2015, after a bad season because of injuries that neither did they allow him to have a continuity in his state of form. In fact, the Spaniard arrived in Paris as the sixth seed, due to the loss of Raonic and was not the favorite to take the title.
After reaching the rooms without the usual solvency but crowning himself as the tennis player with the most victories in the history of the tournament (70 at that time), he would run into a Djokovic who came like a shot. In fact, the game did not last two and a half hours, for more than 4 of their duel on Friday, and the world number one destroyed Nadal for 7-5, 6-3 and 6-1, ending the 39-game winning streak in Paris.
As happened to Soderling, Djokovic could not take advantage of his victory over Rafa to lift the title since, although he also reached the final, he was defeated 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-4 against Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.
2021: Djokovic’s second setback
This Friday ‘Nole’ returned to sign the machado with more merit, if possible, than on the previous occasion. In this edition, Nadal did transmit good feelings, unlike in 2015. The Serbian also reached the semifinals as number one in the world, although having suffered in previous rounds, but was not a favorite against the 13-time champion, who was signing a tournament in which he played better and better. Finally, Djokovic knew how to recover after falling in the first set, defend two set balls for 2-1 and end up winning by 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 and 6-2.
Nadal suffered his third defeat at Roland Garros at the hands of his worst rival, momentarily stopping the victory counter at 105, being the tennis player who has achieved the most wins in the same tournament on the circuit. For his part, Djokovic can already boast of being Nadal’s “black beast” in the land of Paris and the only one who knows what it is to beat him on more than one occasion.
Bonus: the 2016 dropout
After falling a year earlier at the hands of Djokovic, Nadal wanted to redeem himself in France, with the aftertaste that, in addition, the Serbian had not been able to take the trophy. However, his career barely lasted two rounds, since after beating Groth and Bagnis, Rafa announced that abandoned suddenly for a wrist injury that dragged on in the previous weeks. For his part, the Serbian took his opportunity to take home the Musketeers Cup for the first time.