Novak Djokovic has done the unthinkable as the world No. 1 became the first player in history to defeat 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros men’s singles semi-final and reach the final of the French Open 2021.
Novak Djokovic was at his very, very best as he downed Rafael Nadal, 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-2, during their French Open semi-final in what will go down as an all-time classic.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 11, 2021
“It’s been my privilege to share the court with Nadal in this incredible match,” Djokovic said in his post-match interview.
“It’s the best match I’ve ever played in Paris. The atmosphere and energy is as strong as anything I’ve ever felt. We both had the most amazing support tonight.”
Rafael Nadal, the defending champion and chasing a record-setting 21st Grand Slam title, refused to dwell on the consequences of loss.
“I am sad to have lost in the most important tournament of the year for me, but life goes on, it is nothing more than a defeat on a tennis court,” said 35-year-old Nadal.
“Next year I will come again, God willing, with the belief and with the necessary work to be able to give myself another chance.”
Nadal threw everything at the top seed but, after his slow start, Djokovic always seemed to just have the edge when the big points came around and he managed to close out a thrilling four-set win.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 11, 2021
“It took my very best tennis to beat Rafa on this court tonight,” Djokovic continued. “It’s almost as hard to explain what it’s like to play him here as it is to play the match itself, it’s so special.
“You tell yourself no pressure, but there is a lot of pressure, trust me. But, the pressure is a privilege.
“I’m always looking to improve my character, my play and myself as a person.”
Djokovic could now join Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to win each of the four Grand Slam tournaments twice. He will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.
It will be the 29th career Grand Slam final for Djokovic, and the first for Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas beat Alexander Zverev in the semifinals.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Djokovic’s win:
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) June 11, 2021
Pleasure to watch this matchup. Unreal effort/execution from Novak. He was the better player on the day. What a match …
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) June 11, 2021
That’s unreal from @DjokerNole
— Patrick McEnroe (@PatrickMcEnroe) June 11, 2021