The 59th episode remained suspenseful until the early hours of the morning. After yet another memorable duel Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic to reach the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros on Tuesday night.
He will be playing Alexander Zverev, the world's No.3 player, for a spot in the final. Zverev defeated Carlos Alcaraz, the Spanish sensation.
Even with an imperfect preparation, Nadal promised to "try his best" despite the fact that he was not at home on Parisian Clay where he had won thirteen times.
He held on to his faith until Tuesday night, when he was forced to leave the No.1 world ranking at 6-2. 4-6.6-2. 7-6. (7/4) In 4h12 minutes. He had to throw away two fifth sets balls.
Two months before Roland Garros, a fatigue fracture in a rib? A later season on ocher?
Ten days before the Parisian Grand Slam, his left foot was ravaged by an incurable and chronic illness that he described as "chronic and persistent". A fight that lasted almost four-and-a-half hours, in five rounds, 48 hours before Djokovic attacked?
The 36-year-old champion of Mallorca, with over a thousand injuries, and over a thousand and one rebirths is capable of doing anything.
How do you measure this 59th meeting between these two titans who have shared for 16 years the rivalry that has made men's tennis the most successful?
This match is the first to be played between two players who have at least 20 Grand Slam trophy trophies. This match will also be the first between two players with more than 1000 wins on the circuit, and more than 300 Grand Slam victories.
Nadal won almost the entire stadium over for his cause. He played until he was leading 6-2, 3-3 double break.
Djokovic recovered and "Rafa", who suffered a 6-1 loss, was able to tie the two players for a set.
The Spaniard, still determined and strong despite the passing of time, returned to battle as though nothing had ever happened. He won the lead after three hours of play, two sets to 1.
Even after midnight, and even after three hours' of play back to the wall "Nole" didn't give up. He was 5 games to 4 and twice moved within one point of the fifth inning. It was in vain.
Because nobody has a head like the Mallorcan left-hander, who was victorious in decisive game.
Djokovic won't join Nadal for the number of Grand Slam crowns at Roland-Garros 2022. Even "Rafa” has the chance to escape in the lead.