Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in an absolute tennis classic on Friday night to make the final of the French Open. It was a first ever loss for Nadal in the semi-final of Roland Garros and it was a match that brought a range of emotions out from both players. Djokovic emerged triumphant 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in a gruelling four hours and 11 minutes, condemning Nadal to only his third defeat in 16 years and 108 matches at the French Open. The match was so epic that the 5,000 spectators inside Court Philippe Chatrier were allowed to watch the conclusion of the match despite it passing the 11pm Covid-19 curfew. “In agreement with the national authorities, the match will come to an end in your presence," said a stadium announcer told delighted fans.
While the match was going on both Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka had expressed their unhappiness on the fact that a chunk of this incredible showdown will be played in an empty stadium.
“And now almost time for the curfew and people will leave. Perfect (sarcasm). Because scheduling matches earlier is pas possible," Azarenka had said. Andy Murray, on the other hand, said, “Can’t believe this match is going to finish with zero crowd. why does tennis do this to itself?"
However, the French authorities cancelled the curfew on French Open audience for a night to let the greatness flow in Paris without interruption.
With the win, Djokovic became the only player to beat Nadal at French Open twice, stayed on course for a 19th Grand Slam title, to become the first man in over 50 years to win all four Slams twice.
After the match, Djokovic said that it was the greatest-ever match he had played in Paris and Twitter seemed to agree. Here are some of the big reactions from their fellow players on the game.
How is Eva so poised and collected during this match ????— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) June 11, 2021
My ?? will be finished after one game …— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) June 11, 2021
The level is insane tho— victoria azarenka (@vika7) June 11, 2021
Pleasure to watch this matchup. Unreal effort/execution from Novak. He was the better player on the day. What a match …— andyroddick (@andyroddick) June 11, 2021
Djokovic will take on first-time Grand Slam finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday for a crack at the French Open trophy. Tsitsipas had earlier become the first Greek to reach a Grand Slam final with a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Alexander Zverev.