Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal know there’s one thing particular concerning the two of them assembly in the French Open semifinals — even when they’d desire, after all, for it to occur a spherical later.
“Each time we face each other, there’s that extra tension and expectations,” the top-seeded Djokovic stated. “Just vibes are different walking on the court with him.”
The third-seeded Nadal’s take?
“In some way,” he stated, “we are practicing, we are living the sport, for these moments.”
Whatever the standard of play is perhaps between Nadal and Djokovic in Paris on Friday — their semifinal will comply with the one between No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and No. 6 Alexander Zverev of Germany — the numbers related to the matchup are overwhelming.
Start with the massive image: Nadal is 2 wins away from his twenty first Grand Slam title, which might break the boys’s mark he presently shares with Roger Federer.
Djokovic is attempting to get to No. 19, which would depart him only one behind his rivals.
Nadal is 105-2 at Roland Garros — Djokovic is liable for a type of defeats, in the 2015 quarterfinals; Robin Soderling the opposite — and eyeing a 14th championship on the clay-court main.
Djokovic gained La Coupe des Mousquetaires in 2016 and will be a part of Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the one males to win every of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments twice.
“It’s not like any other match. Let’s face it, it’s the biggest challenge that you can have — playing on clay against Nadal on this court, in which he has had so much success in his career,” Djokovic stated. “In the final stages of a Grand Slam, it doesn’t get bigger than that.”
It is their 58th showdown, greater than between another two males in the Open period, which dates to 1968; Djokovic leads 29-28.
Nadal is forward 10-6 on the Slams, 7-1 on the French Open (together with a straight-set victory in the 2020 remaining) and 19-7 on clay (together with a win in final month’s Italian Open remaining).
This one comes in the semifinals, somewhat than the ultimate, as a result of Nadal just lately slid from No. 2 to No. 3 in the rankings. The match seedings strictly comply with the rankings, so Nadal bought no enhance for his dominance on the place, and a random draw decided which half of the bracket he was positioned in.
“It’s going to be a special match,” stated Tenth-seeded Diego Schwartzman, who misplaced to Nadal in the quarterfinals Wednesday however not earlier than ending his 36-set profitable streak in Paris. “Everyone wants to see that.”
The girls’s remaining Saturday shall be No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova towards No. 17 Maria Sakkari or unseeded Barbora Krejcikova. The final 4 girls all had been first-time main semifinalists.
No matter what occurs Friday, the boys’s remaining shall be Old vs. New.
That’s as a result of it should pit somebody in his 30s who is likely one of the best ever — Nadal, 35, or Djokovic, 34 — towards somebody in his 20s with loads of potential however zero Grand Slam titles — Tsitsipas, 22, or Zverev, 24.
Tsitsipas vs. Zverev provides a glimpse of what the way forward for males’s tennis could possibly be.
Both are all-court, all-surface gamers who’re 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) or taller. And each have now grow to be regulars in the latter levels of majors.
“The Grand Slams, they’re still a different animal. … You got to learn how to play them, as well. Very rarely does anybody come in and, all of a sudden, perform his best at Grand Slams. Yes, we’ve seen Rafa do it, but Rafa is sometimes not human,” Zverev stated. “For young guys, it is a learning curve. Hopefully I can say that, slowly but surely, I’m starting to get the hang of it.”
This is his third semifinal in the previous 5 Slams, and he was the runner-up to Dominic Thiem ultimately 12 months’s U.S. Open.
It’s the third main semifinal in a row and fourth general for Tsitsipas, who’s 0-3 up to now.
“I feel privileged that I’m in that position, and I feel, obviously, I’ve put in a lot of daily hard work (that) has been a key element of me being here,” Tsitsipas stated after eliminating No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. “But, you know, my ego tells me I want more.”