In the year of the pandemic, the unprecedented autumn Roland Garros will have a luxurious closure, with the final that will be played on Sunday by Rafael Nadal (2nd ATP), king of the Parisian clay, and world number 1 Novak Djokovic, who achieved their pass this friday.
Nadal dispatched Argentine Diego Schwartzman (14th) on the fast track; by 6-3, 6-3 and 7-6 (7-0), in 3 hours and 9 minutes of play.
Djokovic then blew a match point in the third set and went to five with Greek Stefans Tsitsipas (6th); 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6 and 6-1, with almost 4 hours of play.
With these results, Nadal and Djokovic, the most repeated duel in history (55 games, 29 victories for the Serbian and 26 for the Spanish) will close the edition of the great Parisian that will be remembered for the almost total absence of the public, the cold, the rain, the wind and the night tennis.
At 34, Nadal, a 12-time winner in Paris, is just one win away from equaling Roger Federer’s record of twenty Grand Slam titles.
At 33, Djokovic, who has 17 grand, is faced with a chance to become the first player of the Open era, and only the third in history, to win at least twice each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
“This is Rafa’s house. I will have the motivation to beat him. I already did it in 2015 (quarterfinals), but it will be the biggest challenge to play with Nadal on clay,” said Djokovic right after finishing.
“He is the greatest rival I have had, we have played a mountain of games, nobody has played so many times. We have experience and a lot of respect, Sunday’s game will also depend on the conditions and circumstances,” he later analyzed at a press conference.
– Almost spring afternoon –
The meteorology gave a truce at Roland Garros from the storms and stayed one almost spring afternoon, with sun and about 17 degrees. The Spaniard was not going to miss the gift, with an exhibition against the player who beat him on the clay of Rome three weeks ago.
“It is very difficult to beat him at Roland, they are players who do everything well and are incredible. Sometimes you feel like you’re there, that you go to the fourth (set) and it’s over. You don’t know how and they find the solution,” said Schwartzman.
Focused and agile with his legs, Nadal, who has not missed a set on his way to the final, always found resources to keep Schwartzman away from the center of the court, the number one goal to deactivate him.
“I tried to play with a plan, with determination, the tactic was good. I have found solutions and I have trained with the right attitude. I will continue fighting, today has been my best match of the tournament and I need Sunday to be better,” Nadal said.
– Party ball –
Already at night in the French capital, Djokovic was indestructible for almost two hours and three sets, but unexpectedly he revealed a fissure and Tsitsipas sneaked into the match.
“Stefanos is a great player, but after four hours he was tired. He gave me a lot of problems. I seemed calm on the court, but it was different inside,” said Djokovic, who will play a Grand Slam final for the 27th time.
When ‘Nole’ served to win, with 5-4 in the third, things changed completely. The Serbian even had a match ball that he did not take advantage of.
Tsitsipas finally broke Djokovic’s serve, on his 11th break ball, after 2 hours and 12 minutes of play.
From then on it was Djokovic who was unable to convert his break options, with a surgical Tsitsipas in this exercise. The Greek was 2-2.
The debut of the deciding set followed the same dynamic. The Serbian wasted two break balls and trailed 1-0 but was not carried away by frustration and won the next six games to seal the victory.
pm / gh