13 time French Open champion Rafael Nadal was shocked by world no.1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at Roland Garros in Paris on Friday night.It was a battle between two heavyweights in the sport.Both men have contested most number of matches on tennis court.In 58th meeting between the two,Serbian had a narrow 29-28 lead over Nadal.Coming into this Grand Slam, two have given tennis fans some memorable matches to witness like 2013 French Open semis where Nadal won 9-7 in the fifth set.Nadal had won two clay court titles including his win over Djokovic at Rome Masters this season.Besides,he had lost only 2 matches at Roland Garros compiling staggering 105 wins on his beloved Parisian clay.On the other hand Djokovic has been one of only few players to beat Nadal on clay three or more times So much was anticipated between the two old rivals in this contest.
Nadal with 20 Grand Slam titles looked solid from the start as he raced to 5-0 lead in the first set before Djoker made some resistance.Nadal eventually took the first set in just under an hour 6-3.Second set saw Djokovic making a comeback by breaking Nadal for 4-2 lead and then wrapping up the set 6-3 to level the match.Third set was filled with high drama as tempers flared with both players hitting hard,engaging in baseline rallies and screaming. Serbian had the momentum as he led 5-3 only to see Nadal fight back to lead 6-5.Rafa even had a set point.But Djokovic attempted a drop shot which Nadal couldn’t clear.92 minute set was won by Djokovic in the tiebreaker In further twist,5000 fans were allowed to watch the game despite night curfew.In the fourth set,crowd cheered for Rafa to take it to the decider.Nadal even broke early to go up 2-0.However,Djokovic was playing at different level.He broke back.Nadal had cramps in his leg and could not do much damage as Djokovic sealed it with 6-2 and a place in the final.
This was one of the best display by 18 time major winner- Novak Djokovic who will be looking to become the first man in 50 years to win all four majors twice.
For Nadal,he will be disappointed after the loss as he was close to surpass Roger Federer with most Grand Slam titles with 21 wins.
By Shailesh Padhye