To go one step closer to another French title by killing the Joker, the king of the soil

Rafael Nadal reached the semifinals of the French Open, defeating world No. 1 and 2021 champion Novak Djokovic 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

The 13-time Roland Garros winner needs more than four hours to get one step closer to his record-breaking 22nd major and will meet Alexander Zaverev for a place in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, Zaverev defeated fellow top-10 players at the Grand Slam for the first time in a dozen attempts, beating Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

The world’s No. 3 star won 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-7 (9-6) in their thrilling quarter final in three hours and 18 minutes.

The match between Nadal and Djokovic began at 9pm Paris time on Tuesday night and ended just after 12pm on Wednesday.

Nadal has finished top-seeded Djokovic’s bid for a second consecutive title win at the French Open and has confirmed that Serbia are behind him in the Grand Slam count with 20.

After surviving an already five-set thriller against Canadian Felix Agar Aliasim in the previous round, Nadal, backed by a biased crowd, found the means to finish it in four sets despite a break in the fourth.

The 36-year-old Spaniard improved to 110-3 all-time at Roland Garros on Friday. Two of those losses were against Djokovic, including last year’s semifinals.

The showdown was the 59th of their careers, with more than two other men playing each other in the Open era. Nadal narrowed Djokovic’s lead to 30-29.

German Zverev took a two-set lead with Alcaraz, also in Court Philippe-Chatriere, making a number of unnecessary errors. But then the sun goes down behind the stand and the 19-year-old wakes up, takes the third and holds the set point in the tiebreak of the fourth set.

Xavier, however, saved that point before winning his second match.

“I knew I had to play my best match,” said Zverev, who lost to Stefanos Sitsipas in the 2021 semifinals.

“I am just happy to have won the tiebreak. The turn of the match was turning. I told him on the net that he would win this tournament. I hope I can win it before he starts hitting us all. “

The result marks the end of the Spaniard’s 14-match unbeaten streak and leaves him a reflection of how to do better next time.

“The difference between other tournaments and a Grand Slam is that you have time to come back,” said Alcaraz, who also reached the quarterfinals of the US Open last year.

“But at the same time, it’s harder because it’s difficult to keep the focus, the level, for three, four, five hours at the Grand Slam. I would say that’s the difference.

“I have to take lessons. I mean, I need to improve on the next Grand Slam or the next match. But I will say that I am not far from reaching the semifinals or winning the Grand Slam. “


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