Tennis

Rafael Nadal Leads Novak Djokovic In Blockbuster Roland Garros SF | ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal is off to a good start in his highly anticipated semi-final blockbuster against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Friday evening at Roland Garros.

The 13-time champion was under pressure in the first game, in which he faced two break points. But after saving those break points with big serves, the Spaniard raced to a 5-0 lead and eventually took the set 6-3 despite a late charge from Djokovic.

Entering the match, Djokovic had converted 63 per cent of his break points at Roland Garros this year. But he was only able to convert one of his five chances in the opening set, and that proved costly.

Nadal has shown great intensity from the first ball, attacking relentlessly and forcing Djokovic to try to play offence from difficult positions on the court. At points, the Serbian has blasted balls at the lefty’s forehand and had success, but he has also struggled with his drop shot, much like he did in last year’s championship match on this court.

When Nadal has gotten the first big strike in a rally, he has been more effective at maintaining control of points and finishing them. He hit his third double fault of the match to give a break back, and Djokovic settled down to push the Spaniard in his next service game. But Nadal was able to finish the opener after a game that went to deuce.

These two legends are meeting for a record 58th time in their ATP Head2Head series. Although the Serbian leads their rivalry 29-28, the legendary lefty has a 7-1 edge on the Parisian clay, and he has won five consecutive matches against his great rival on clay.

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Nadal is trying to win a record 21st Grand Slam title this fortnight, which would move him past Roger Federer to stand alone atop the all-time list. Djokovic is attempting to complete a second Career Grand Slam and earn his 19th major crown.

The winner will play Stefanos Tsitsipas for the Coupe des Mousquetaires. The Greek battled past Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 37 minutes in the day’s first semi-final. Nadal holds a 7-2 ATP Head2Head lead against Tsitsipas, and Djokovic owns a 5-2 advantage against the 22-year-old.

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