Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Anticipated since the draw, the quarter-final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros, scheduled for Tuesday night (around 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time), is the most played piece in the history of men’s tennis. Still, its plot is out of the ordinary.

After the one-sided final of 2020 in favor of Nadal (6-0, 6-2, 7-5) and the spectacular semi-final of 2021 in the form of revenge for Djokovic (3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2), this third duel in three editions of Roland Garros looks beautiful between the two giants.

If we rely on statistics, the 35-year-old Serb, holding the trophy, has a slight overall advantage (30-28 on all surfaces and all competitions combined), but the Spaniard, 36 years old Friday, leads both on clay (18-8), his beloved surface, as in Grand Slam (10-7) and Roland Garros (7-2).

Yet, the situation is delicate for “Rafa,” far from that of his great years on ochre, who says he will not leave favorite Tuesday night.

“With 2015 (7-5, 6-3, 6-1 defeat in the quarters), these are perhaps the two times when Djokovic is the clearest favorite when I face him here.

All the other times, either I was the favorite, or it was 50-50,” Nadal said. “There, with our respective dynamics of recent months, he arrives in a better situation,” he continues.

Of course, Roland-Garros is the second home of the Mallorcan champion. He has triumphed thirteen times since 2005, lost only three times in 112 matches, and has only been pushed three times to a fifth set.

“Try with all my might.”

But Nadal arrived in Paris on a most precarious dynamic. The cause: a fracture of fatigue in the ribs occurred two months before Roland-Garros, which stopped his formidable momentum at the beginning of the season (21st Grand Slam in Australia and twenty-first matches won), and the awakening of his chronic pain in the left foot in mid-May.

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“I haven’t played this kind of game in the last three months, and it’s going to be a big challenge,” he said.

Forty-eight hours before meeting Djokovic, he battled for nearly four and a half hours against Felix Auger-Aliassime (9th).

“I don’t know if I’m going to be capable or not, I don’t have enough baggage to feel if I have the background to play at the level I need to beat someone like Novak, but I will try with all my might,” the Spaniard promised.

From his marathon match against “FAA,” Nadal retains, in particular, a positive element: having “been able to make the difference at the most critical moment by being much more aggressive and getting to the net.”

Inevitably, the question of his physical state arises. “I don’t think I’ll be affected physically after this game; at the muscular level, it’s okay, at the level of fatigue too.

After, what can happen there, we do not know, “says the current world N.5, referring to his left foot, eaten away by necrosis of the scaphoid bone (Muller-Weiss syndrome) for more than fifteen years.

Djokovic is “ready.”

Conversely, everything has been better for Djokovic in recent weeks. The world No. 1 has become himself again with the return of the European circuit, after an incredible quarter in which he was evicted from Australia and almost stopped for lack of Covid-19 vaccine.

“I’m happy with how I feel, with my ball strike. I’m ready,” says Nole, on a run of nine games won in a row, with his title in Rome – his first in six months – and his first four rounds crossed in three sets in Paris.

Djokovic played thirty games on the Porte d’Auteuil’s courts and spent just under eight hours there.

“I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time on the courts, knowing that playing it at Roland Garros is always a physical fight and everything else,” said the Serb. “It’s a huge challenge. Probably the largest that can exist here.

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Because even if Nadal is no longer unbreakable as in the time of his splendor, his two feet are still well anchored on his beloved land.

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Introducing Al Amin Sagor, a perilously acclaimed author and movie expert. He has a passion for film and is known for his meticulous movie reviews that provide readers with an exhaustive understanding of the latest releases. In addition to reviews, Al Amin Sagor also writes about how to watch movies and the best films to watch across different genres and eras, providing readers with a complete guide to the world of cinema.


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