Legends never die, they say. It was after one o’clock in the morning when Rafael Nadal overcame world number 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic after four hours of a titanic fight in four sets, 6-2, 4- 6, 6-2, 7-6. The summary of this unforgettable night of tennis with Europe 1, official radio of Roland-Garros.
How could he have lost this game? At home, in Paris, on “his” central court in front of 15,000 spectators all committed to his cause despite the hour, despite the cold. For the first time in a long time at Roland-Garros, Rafael Nadal was not the favorite. He was said to be on the decline, diminished by his foot pain, blunted after a first marathon match against Félix Auger-Aliassime.
Nadal does not waver
The Spaniard’s farewell tour was already mentioned but on Tuesday evening, he once again got everyone in agreement, including Cédric Pioline, the consultant for Europe 1, the official radio station of the French Open. “He made me lie, I didn’t think he had the physical means to keep up with Djokovic, he showed us that he had them”, admits the ex-tennis player.
To say that Novak Djokovic had not lost a single set since the start of the tournament. The Serb, surprisingly tense and messy from start to finish, was caught up in the huge stakes. He never found the formula to unbolt the man who already has his own statue at Roland-Garros.
He only really dominated at the end of the second set, winning 6-4 while Rafael Nadal led 3-0. We said to ourselves then that it was a turning point, that logic was going to prevail in the end, except that it was quite the opposite that happened. With Rafael Nadal on the Philippe-Chatrier court, even at 1:15 a.m., you should never draw a definitive conclusion.