Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Nadal to Face Djokovic at French Open

Nadal to Face Djokovic at French Open

Monday, 30 May, 2022 - 07:15
Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 29, 2022 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his fourth round match against Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

By the end of only the third five-setter Rafael Nadal has played in 112 career matches at Roland Garros, as the sun and temperature descended and the chants of “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!” filled the evening air, the man known as the King of Clay showed precisely what this meant to him.


With every sprint-slide-and-stretch to reach a seemingly unreachable shot off the yellow racket of his opponent, Felix Auger-Aliassime; with every right-to-a-corner winner; with every well-struck volley, Nadal would hop or throw an uppercut or scream “Vamos!” — and, often, all of the above.


Nadal got through his first serious test of this French Open by edging No. 9 seed Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 across nearly 4 1/2 hours of even, entertaining tennis in the fourth round Sunday at Court Philippe Chatrier.


“Being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if it's going to be my last match here in Roland Garros. ... That’s my situation now," said Nadal, who turns 36 on Friday. “That's why I am just trying to enjoy as much as possible.”


And the reward for coming through this one? A tantalizing matchup against rival Novak Djokovic in Tuesday's quarterfinals, The Associated Press reported.


Nadal improved to 3-0 in five-set matches at the clay-court tournament he has dominated the way no one ever has dominated any Grand Slam event. Overall he is 109-3 here, and two of those defeats came against Djokovic, including in last year's semifinals in their most recent showdown.


The significance of the rivalry: Tuesday's meeting will be their 59th, more than any other two men have played each other in the sport's professional era. Djokovic leads 30-28, although Nadal has a 7-2 advantage at the French Open.


“We have a lot of history together,” said Nadal, who attended the Champions League final Saturday night won by his favorite club, Real Madrid, and didn't get back to his room until after midnight.


Editor Picks

Multimedia