Novak Djokovic has dethroned the king of clay during an enthralling four set semi-final encounter at Roland Garros. The world no. 1 taking the match 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2.
This followed another epic semi-final match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
It was the Greek player reaching his first ever grand slam final after a five set victory. The match was won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in three-hour, 35-minutes.
The key moment in the deciding fifth set was when Tsitsipas recovered from 0-40 down in the opening game of the set to hold serve.
Tsitsipas would break the German in the fourth game and go on to claim victory in the five sets.
In the second semi-final it was 13-time champion Rafael Nadal who came out firing. Nadal had never lost a semi-final at the French Open.
After saving two break points in the opening service game, Nadal was well on top early racing to a 5-0 lead before Djokovic finally got on the scoreboard.
Djokovic would break in the seventh game, one that last for close to nine minutes. A hold by Djokovic would put some pressure on Nadal before he was able to hold serve to take the first set 6-3.
After the first set Djokovic started to work his way into the match and he was able to break in the second game of the second set, however he was broken in the very next game.
Djokovic was matching the hitting of Nadal and he again broke the defending champion in the sixth game.
It looked likely that Nadal would again break back immediately however he was not able to convert any of three opportunities that came his way which saw Djokovic claim the second set.
In the third set it was the world no. 1 that first had a look at some break points, that came in the third game where he had two opportunities. Nadal was able to fight them off.
Djokovic held to love and he was again putting pressure on the Nadal serve.
This time Djokovic was able to break on his third opportunity. Nadal would break back before Djokovic again broke before holding to hold a 5-3 lead.
Nadal held and then broke Djokovic to level the score at 5-5. The set then went to a tie breaker after both players held despite facing break points.
It wasn’t a good start for Nadal in the breaker as he served a double fault. Nadal got the mini break back after an unforced error by Djokovic.
Djokovic went from 2-3 to 5-3 after back-to-back winners followed by an unforced error by Nadal. That was enough of a cushion for Djokovic to claim a crucial two sets to one lead.
This was a match with plenty of break opportunities. Nadal helped himself to a break in the opening game of the fourth set.
Djokovic got three consecutive breaks to take control of the match and dethrone the champion. Nadal looked battle weary as Djokovic was relentless.
“Each time you step on the court with him, you know that you have to kind of climb Mount Everest to win against this guy here,” Djokovic said after the four hour and 11-minute tussle.
“Even though I didn’t have such a great start, I was not too nervous because I felt like I was hitting the ball very well,” said the 34-year-old Serb. “It was just a matter of me working my way into the match and adjusting to his ball, which is completely different than any other player’s ball. The amount of spin he plays with from the forehand corner, I mean, it’s tremendous.”
“I had the big chance with set point, 6-5, second serve,” Nadal later lamented. “That’s it. Anything could happen in that moment. Then I make a double fault, easy volley in the tiebreak.”