On the 2021 menu of Roland-Garros, which has returned to summer flavors, it is in a way the dessert before the main course. Since fate placed the nO 1 worldwide and the nO 3 in the same half of the table, we knew that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal could not cross swords on the last step, for a possible revenge of the Serbian after his defeat in the 2020 tournament, autumn version.
“It’s the long-awaited semi-final. Here we are “, himself salivated the nO 1 world, barely his qualification acquired at the expense of the Italian Matteo Berrettini, at the evocation of the 58e duel with the Spaniard – the most fertile rivalry in tennis since that between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. “Obviously conditions will be different on Friday than they were in the final last year. I hope that I will be able to play at a higher level than that of the first two sets in particular ”, during which the master of the place had mortified him, before styling his 13e crown (6-0, 6-2, 7-5).
He will especially have to forget that he has not won against Rafael Nadal on his beloved surface since 2016, in the quarterfinals of the Masters 1000 in Rome. Since then, in five games on earth, he has only stolen… two sets.
But Novak Djokovic also has legitimate reasons to believe in it. First, because he is one of the only two, along with the Swede Robin Söderling, to have already achieved the feat of destroying the king in his fortress Porte d’Auteuil (in the quarter-finals, in 2015). Then because “The quality and level of tennis that[il a] played for three or four weeks on clay in Rome [finale face à Nadal], Belgrade [victoire] and here [lui] allow to have positive feelings for this match ”. “I think I can win it, otherwise I wouldn’t be here”, he assures.
“With the racket, I can fail, not with the head”
Even before the outcome of the match between Djokovic and Berrettini, Rafael Nadal was questioned about this possible reunion. Facing the nO 1 worldwide, the flight plan is elementary: “You have to play your best tennis at your best. And it’s tough against one of the best players in tennis history, sums up the Spaniard. We train, we do this sport to live these moments. “
Announcing that he will start as a favorite is like breaking through an open door: each time he reached the last four, the Mallorcan has been crowned, even if, since the start of the tournament, the defending champion has gone through a few holes. air and sometimes gave the impression of making his age, he who celebrated his 35 years on June 3, 2021.
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