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Nadal: 'I Had A Big Chance'

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2021

Rafael Nadal fell short in a memorable semi-final against Novak Djokovic on Friday evening at Roland Garros. Although disappointed to not continue his pursuit of a record 21st Grand Slam title, the 13-time champion understood that he simply lost to a better player on the day.

“That’s sport,” Nadal said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I tried to give my best.”

Djokovic was unrelenting. Even still, the Spaniard had an opportunity to take a two-sets-to-one lead. The World No. 1 had missed a mid-court forehand when serving for the third set at 5-4, 30/0, and in a flash Nadal had a set point at 6-5. Nadal almost never lets slip those moments — that is how he entered this match 105-2 at Roland Garros.

But the Serbian answered the challenge with a daring backhand drop shot, and he won the ensuing tie-break, in which Nadal mishit an easy forehand volley long.

“I had a big chance with set point, 6-5, second serve [in the third set]. That’s it. Anything could happen in that moment,” Nadal said. “Then I made a double fault, [missed an] easy volley in the tie-break. But it’s true that [there were] crazy points out there. The fatigue is there, too. These kind of mistakes can happen.

“But if you want to win, you can’t make these mistakes. So that’s it. Well done for him. [It was] a good fight out there. I tried my best, and today was not my day.”

The Spaniard pointed to the changing conditions as the evening wore on. At the start of the match, when it was warmer, his heavy-topspin shots were bouncing high off the clay. But as the ball slowly began bouncing lower as the conditions got cooler, it made Djokovic’s shotmaking easier. Nadal refused to make that an excuse, though.

“[It] doesn’t matter. That’s tennis,” Nadal said. “The player who gets used to the conditions better is the player who deserves to win. So no doubt he deserved to win.”

Rafael Nadal

Nadal added that the accuracy of his shots was not good enough, which allowed Djokovic to maintain his court-positioning.

“[It] probably was not my best day out there. Even if I fought, [even if I] put a lot of effort, the position on the shots [were not] that effective tonight,” Nadal said. “Against a player like him who takes the ball early, you are not able to take him out of his positions, then it is very difficult.”

Despite the loss, Nadal was thankful for the support inside Court Philippe-Chatrier. Fans tried to urge him back into the match, and they were allowed to stay in the stadium for the entirety despite a curfew in France. The atmosphere was electric, the best since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[It was] amazing, the support. I can’t thank enough the feelings. I have been super tired some moments, but the crowd gave me some energy to keep going,” Nadal said. “It’s super emotional for me to feel the love of the people in the most important place of my tennis career, without a doubt. So thanks a lot to them.”

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Twitter Reacts: Nadal and Djokovic Play Out Classic

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2021

Novak Djokovic’s epic battle with Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros semi-finals began trending on Twitter long before the match ticked over the four-hour mark.

After 13-time champion Nadal won the opening set, Djokovic fought back to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 to set up a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.

Below are some of the tweets from prominent members of the tennis community engrossed in the match.

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Tsitsipas Vows To 'Leave My Entire Body On Court' In Final

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas revealed he was proud of how he handled his emotions in an ‘exhausting’ semi-final clash at Roland Garros on Friday, which saw the Greek defeat Alexander Zverev to reach his first Grand Slam final.

The fifth seed, who won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, will now play either 13-time champion Rafael Nadal or top seed Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

“It means a lot. It was a difficult match. It was a match full of emotions, full of so many different phases that I went through. So, in the end, it was just such a big relief I was able to close it in such a good way. It was just exhausting,” Tsitsipas admitted. “It was difficult to handle all of these things and put them together, kind of compromise on some others. I was able to deliver and close the match when I had to. I’m proud of myself.”



Tsitsipas had led by two sets before Zverev levelled up the match to force a decider. This resulted in the Greek, who has reached the semi-finals twice at the Australian Open (2019, 2021), refocusing again, as he saved three break points from 0/40 at the start of the fifth. Tsitsipas believed this was a crucial moment in the clash.

“I was trying to be in a good relationship with myself and get encouraged and push forward for something good to happen. I knew I was not done at that point, I had more to give. I was playing much better. All I had to do was put in the concentration,” Tsitsipas said.

“I’m someone who fights. I was not willing to give up yet. I think I did few things right that worked in my favour. I was still alive. I was still able to come back to the match. It was a breath of fresh air, that first game. I felt revitalized,” Tsitsipas admitted.

The 22-year-old has now recorded a Tour-leading 39 wins this year and is excited to be in Sunday’s final at a tournament which means a great deal to him.

Tsitsipas said: “Roland Garros has been a historical tournament. It has been an event that I’ve been watching since I was little. It has been my coach’s favourite tournament. I grew up with him. It’s a tournament that we always followed, we always watched. I was mostly being emotional for putting myself in that position. I was kind of being emotional for him. He’s back in Greece now, in Athens. I’m pretty sure he’s very proud of me so far.

“I’m looking forward to leaving my entire body on the court in the final. It’s time for me to show that I’m capable of playing either Nadal or Djokovic, who has also done well a few times here. I’m looking forward to bring my game to kind of challenge myself to step it up.”

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Updates: Zverev, Tsitsipas Battling In Fifth Set To Reach The Final

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2021

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev has recovered from two-sets-to-love down against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in their Roland Garros semi-final on Friday. Contesting a deciding set, Zverev and Tsitsipas are level at 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in their eighth ATP Head2Head meeting (Tsitsipas leads 5-2).

Zverev, who recovered from 0-2 sets down against German qualifier Oscar Otte in the first round, has a 16-7 record in five-set matches. Tsitsipas is 5-4 in five set clashes.

Tsitsipas, who has an ATP Tour-leading 38 match wins this season, capitalised on early nerves from Zverev and bounced back from 0-3 down in the second set to win seven straight games. Zverev earned a lifeline in the third set and started to play his best tennis, as he did when he beat Tsitsipas 6-4, 7-6(3) in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC final in March. The German then won 20 of 24 service points in the fourth set.

The winner will challenge World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2016 champion, or 13-time titlist Rafael Nadal, who play their semi-final later today.

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Tsitsipas, contesting his fourth major semi-final, was aggressive right from the start, capitalising on a nervous start from Zverev to win the first three games in 11 minutes. Ultimately, a backhand error gave Tsitsipas the 38-minute opener. Would Zverev respond? Only once in their past seven meetings had a player lost the first set and gone on to clinch victory (Tsitsipas in the 2018 Toronto quarter-finals).

An early break in the second set transformed Zverev, who started to strike his groundstrokes cleanly and move Tsitsipas around Court Philippe-Chatrier. The crowd became engaged, but Tsitsipas soon began to dictate having been let back into the match when Zverev struck consecutive backhands wide at 1-3. Further errors cost Zverev as Tsitsipas, quick to move onto the short ball, won the next six games — and 25 of 37 points.

Having been in total control, Tsitsipas gave Zverev a lifeline in the third set, when the Greek hooked a forehand wide to lose serve in the third game. While Tsitsipas won 15 of 18 points at the net through three sets, Zverev was more than happy to attack and had luck on his side when he framed a smash over the net as he served for the set.

Zverev carried the momentum in a serve-dominated fourth set by continuing to adjust his positioning on return. Tsitsipas became riled and couldn’t get a look-in on Zverev’s serve. From 4-3, 0/30 in the third set to a 5-3 lead in the fourth set, Zverev won 22 of 24 service points.

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Key Stats: Why Rafa Must Bust Novak's Break Point Brilliance…

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2021

Who will win the high-pressure points in the blockbuster semi-final showdown at Roland Garros on Friday between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal? That could prove critical in deciding who reaches the final. And if their play in Paris leading into the last four carries into this clash, Djokovic might have the advantage.

The World No. 1 has played his best tennis this fortnight when facing break points and when trying to convert them. Entering this tournament, Djokovic had only saved 61.4 per cent of break points faced in 2021 according to Infosys ATP Stats. In Paris, he has saved 86.4 per cent of them, only losing his serve three times. Djokovic has converted 63 per cent of his break opportunities, which is better than his pre-Roland Garros season mark of 44.2 per cent.

2021 Roland Garros Stats (Until SFs)

 Player  Novak Djokovic  Rafael Nadal
 Aces  40  23
 Double Faults  11  20
 1st Serve Pts Won  78.8% (268/340)  79.5% (206/259)
 2nd Serve Pts Won  57% (90/158)  55.3% (89/161)
 Return Pts Won  45.1% (229/508)  47.6% (205/431)
 Break Pts Saved  86.4% (19/22)  50% (11/22)
 Break Pts Converted  63% (29/46)  49.3% (33/67)
 Net Pts Won  69.7% (76/109)  77.6% (59/76)
 Winners   192  165
 Unforced Errors  122  134
 Time On Court  12:34  11:46
 Sets Lost  3  1

Statistics courtesy of Infosys Stats

Although Nadal has earned more service breaks through five matches (33-29), the Spaniard has only taken advantage of 49.3 per cent of his chances. In three of his matches, Djokovic has not dropped serve once.

However, Nadal has not been tested as thoroughly as Djokovic. The Spaniard saw his 36-set winning streak at Roland Garros come to an end in the second set of his quarter-final against Diego Schwartzman. But that was the only set he has lost in the tournament, while the Serbian has dropped three, and he trailed Lorenzo Musetti two sets to none in the fourth round. Only five of Nadal’s 16 sets have gone further than 6-3.

Djokovic has spent 48 more minutes on court than the 13-time champion, and he played Wednesday evening. Letting slip a third-set tie-break advantage against Matteo Berrettini and having to dig deep in a fourth set might prove costly should this semi-final go the distance.

Otherwise, very little has separated them statistically. When you strip aces and double faults from Djokovic and Nadal’s winner and unforced error counts, the top seed has played slightly cleaner tennis. Djokovic has hit 1.37 winners for every unforced error, while Nadal has struck 1.25 winners per unforced error. The Spaniard led the Serbian in that category through four matches, but Djokovic crushed 44 winners to just 19 unforced errors against Berrettini, tilting the ratios in his favour.

Nadal has the edge in net points won, making successful trips forward 77.6 per cent of the time in this tournament compared to 69.7 per cent for Djokovic. The third seed has also won slightly more return points overall 47.6 per cent to 45.1 per cent.

The most glaring stat of all heading into their 58th ATP Head2Head meeting is Nadal’s 7-1 record against Djokovic at Roland Garros. Will the Serbian’s break point supremacy help him flip that script?

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