Novak Djokovic was the favorite to defend his Roland Garros title in Paris this year. The world no. 1 came to Paris after achieving his record-extending 38th Masters title in Rome last month. On Wednesday, he entered his quarterfinal encounter against Rafael Nadal with a nine-match and 21-set winning streak. However, Nole dropped his first set of the French Open against Nadal in the opening set. Rafa managed to get an early lead by winning the first set of a four-set encounter that lasted four hours and eleven minutes. The Spaniard beat Novak by 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, and 7-6 (4) at the Philippe Chatrier Court.
Djokovic commended Rafa for his amazing effort on Wednesday and claimed that the Spaniard deserved to win. He congratulated Nadal and told that the 35-year-old was a better player in the important moments. Moreover, Nole shared that Rafa started really well, and he did not start so great, conceding double breaks with 2-6 and 0-3. The Serb was slowly returning back to the momentum during the second set when he managed to win and thought himself to be back in the game.
However, things got tricky for Nole when Nadal played another two or three amazing games during the start of the third set. As per Djokovic, Rafa took his game to the next level, particularly at the start of each set except the fourth. The 34-year-old was impressed by Nadal’s mental strength and finishing the game the way he did. He congratulated Rafa and his team. Novak added, “He showed why he’s a great champion. No doubt he deserved it.”
Djokovic Feels He Missed His Chances To Win Against Nadal
Novak entered this year’s French Open Tournament as the defending champion. The Serb defeated Nadal in the semi-finals before beating Medvedev to win the title. Despite being in great form, Djokovic failed to outperform the world no. 5 in crucial moments. Talking about his defeat, Nole cleared that he had his chances, especially during the fourth set. The Serb took a 5-2 lead in the fourth set, but he dropped his lead and lost the fourth set and the game. Djokovic felt that if he served for the set and gained a couple of set points that could have taken him to the fifth set. The 34-year-old added, “Then it’s really anybody’s game.”
Nadal extended his Roland Garros lead against Djokovic to 8-2. But, Nole leads by 30-29 in the ATP series. Djokovic will leave Paris with a 16-5 record this season, while Rafa will play against Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals with an aim to win his 22nd Grand Slam title.
The Serb revealed that he was proud of his efforts in this year’s tournament. According to Nole, he gave his best, and he could have played better. However, Novak was proud of the way he fought and stayed until the last shot. Djokovic feels that he lost to a better player. He had his chances but failed to clinch them. The world no. 1 added, “That’s it. Over four hours’ battle, and I have to accept this defeat.”