Here is Tumaini Carayol’s report.
French Open quarter-finals: Nadal beats Djokovic in epic, Gauff and Trevisan win – as it happened
Nadal will play Zverev on Friday, the winner of his own four-set epic with Carlos Alcaraz. That concludes the blog after a long long day and night. Tumaini Carayol’s report will soon follow.
Marion Bartoli does the honours on the mic, saying she has no words to describe what she had seen. And Nadal speaks.
Good evening, I am very emotional, thank you thank thank you everyone. It was incredible for me. It was so important for the crowd to be behind me. It was really special. It was a very tough match, Novak is one of the best players in history, and all the history we have. There is only one way to beat Novak and that is to play at your best. See you in two days, that’s all I can say.
Was that the last time they meet? Nadal is on course for a 21st grand slam, a 14th French Open, and should he do so, then Djokovic needs to win three more to overtake him. And it was Djokovic who looked a little less fit for the fight, while still contributing to an all-time classic.
Djokovic gets to serve first in the tiebreak, but is worked over and then swings a forehand that goes wide. 0-1. Nadal, with the crowd on his side, pummels a winner home to lead 2-0. Then he reads a Djokovic forehand to whip his own forehand home. 3-0 to Nadal, who then goes long for 3-1, before Djokovic does the same for 4-1. Now Nadal serves, and Djokovic again goes wide, way wide, for 5-1, with a backhand fluff. Then Djokovic tries an impossible backhand drop from the baseline, It falls short. Five match points. Djokovic skips up to backhand a winner home for 2-6 down. Then it’s 3-6 but Nadal will now serve. Djokovic does achieve the impossible with his next return. 4-6. Surely not? No, Nadal wins, the ball bouncing up after a long rally and he clatters home. What a shot, what a win, what a match, what a player, what a pair of players.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 6-6 Djokovic
Nadal disguises a forehand that catches Djokovic unawares for 15-0. Then Djokovic can’t keep the ball in, and goes 30-0 down. 40-0, and so a tiebreaker beckons when Djokovic cannot return the Nadal serve.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 5-6 Djokovic*
Djokovic finds his finest scrambling, and makes it to 30-0 but then his passing shot to go 40-0 up misses the target. He makes it to 40-15, a stop volley to follow up his forehand getting him there. Nadal misses the next and that’s a huge hold.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 5-5 Djokovic
Nadal gets to 30-0 with one of those forehand crashers, but then goes too long in the next baseline rally. He tempts Djokovic into missing the next return, and then Djokovic nets. Now it’s Djokovic’s turn to be on the back foot.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 4-5 Djokovic*
The fourth set is back to life. Nadal drops the ball over for 0-15, with Djok slow to react. He replies with an ace. Then Nadal crashes a backhand winner for 15-30. Djokovic replies with another serve that Nadal can only pitch back up to be volleyed home. Then comes set point after another fine serve. And, sure enough, it’s another deuce. And then even more Djokovic service brilliance, with Nadal unable to deal with the first serve, and then comes a Nadal passing shot, risking it all to pull level again. Then Nadal claims break point by charging to the net. That’s saved by some Djokovic scampering, and a drop shot that Nadal can do nothing with. Back to deuce. But Djokovic misses a backhand down the line. Here comes another chance for Nadal. And he breaks back, the old forehand getting the job done, with Djokovic dumfounded.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 3-5 Djokovic
An old-style Nadal winner down the line takes him to 40-0. He then blams a backhand into the net, and then so does Djokovic. More pressure on the Djok serve, and he mist serve out the set.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 2-5 Djokovic*
As Eurosport’s commentator, Simon Reed, reminds us, it’s now June in France. Juin, if you will. At 15-15, Nadal attempts an Alcaraz-like whipped forehand, but misses. Then Djok plants a backhand down the line, only to miss game point. It’s 40-30 but Djokovic takes the hold as Nadal attempts to thrash a winner down the line, and misses. Nadal must serve to save the fourth set. And the rest of us from a very late night.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 2-4 Djokovic
Nadal holds to love, finishing with a falling leaf of a drop shot. The pressure goes on the Djokovic serve.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 1-4 Djokovic*
Djokovic skips up, and pelts a forehand home to go 30-0 up, then reads a no-look effort to go 40-0 up. The rallies are getting noticeably shorter. That said, Nadal slam dunks an overhead to put pressure on Djok’s serve, but the Serb then holds with some fearsome forehand play from the baseline.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 1-3 Djokovic
Nadal’s service game is won fairly easily. Can he now break Djokovic?
Gary Naylor’s in: “What time does the Metro start in the morning?” Cinq heures, strike permitting?
Gregory Phillips too: “It really is a privilege to watch these two belt the living daylights out of each other year after year.And fair play to Zverev for doing the business earlier, but I think Alcaraz could give the winner of this more of an argument.”
Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 0-3 Djokovic*
Nadal tying up? Been here before but he’s suddenly off it, and Djokovic is at his Lendl on-cheat-mode best. The service hold is to love, and we look to be going the distance.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 0-2 Djokovic
Anger from Djokovic as a net cord comes to save Nadal not just once but twice, and he he smashes the net with rage. Nadal jabs home a volley to go 30-15 up. Djokovic has not given up, and it goes to 30-30, Nadal getting fidgety, and then offering up a break point. And then there’s a huge row over the break point, where Nadal though the ball was in. The Hawk Eye suggests the ump was right. And Nadal was wrong.
Yas gets in touch: “To say this match makes you speechless is an understatement. Djokovic in five a la Australian Open 2012. Astounding.”
Nadal 6-2 4-6 6-2 0-1 Djokovic*
Nadal seeks to break in the opening game of the set again, and gets to 30-30, only for a Djok drop to stop him, and then a swatting forehand takes the game, and holds the serve.
Nadal misses an overhead for the first point, the ball pinging off his racquet and out. Then Djokovic is temped into going for broke and missing. He then nets from the baseline to go 30-15 behind. Then Nadal punches the ball home, and has two set points. The first is saved a clawing swat of a forehand. The second is coughed up by Djokovic going too long as he seeks to batter the ball home. He looks highly miffed.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 5-2 Djokovic*
Djokovic holds to love, a rarity in this epic. Nadal perhaps conserving energy before serving for the third set.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 5-1 Djokovic
The Djokovic radar seems off, though he is being ground down by Nadal, who holds and has a clear lead in the third set, having found the form of the opening set.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 4-1 Djokovic*
A double fault hands Nadal a break point. And Djokovic then hands him a double break. We went here last set so nothing taken for granted but the Serb’s spurt seems to have to stopped for now.
*Nadal 6-2 4-6 3-1 Djokovic
Nadal holds. Plenty of overhead work now, with plenty of chasing giving rise to the lobs that precede them. Djokovic misses one, and hands Nadal a 30-15 lead. That becomes 40-15. Then 40-30, then, of course, deuce, when Djokovic straight-arms a volley to the back of the court. A Nadal double takes it back to deuce, then he misses a volley at the net that was going begging. That means Djokovic has a break point, one he can’t seize as he nets. Déjà vu, they call it in Paris. Nadal claims an advantage with a volley and then Djok’s attempt to drop just over the net falls short.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 2-1 Djokovic*
An overhead takes Djokovic to 40-15, the pace between them slowing a little?
Nadal* 6-2 4-6 2-0 Djokovic
Djokovic seems to have dropped off a bit. Though Nadal is also making errors. This time a forehand takes him clear in the third set.
Nadal 6-2 4-6 1-0 Djokovic*
Back we go, and Nadal takes an early lead with two overheads. He was up two breaks in the last set, but all is not lost, and he gets himself three break points on the Djok serve. The first is missed by Djok, and Nadal breaks. Wow.
The comeback is complete, though we have hours to go yet. Djokovic arrows return to peg Nadal back to 30-15, then he engineers his way to 30-30, clattering home a high forehand, bouncing as he does so. Then a Nadal miss, off the net cord, sets up set point to Djok. It’s saved as Nadal forces a mistake, and the ball goes long. Nadal gets the first advantage, and then it goes to deuce. Another set point is handed over by Nadal trying to whip the ball down the line. Then Nadal, looking tired, tries to hit a winner but misses.
Nadal 6-2 4-5 Djokovic*
Djokovic rips a shot home for 40-15, to take control, and now Nadal must serve to save the set.
Nadal* 6-2 4-4 Djokovic
Nadal keeps chasing this set and gets to 30-30 with typical speed, the same happening for 40-30, smashing home as Djokovic scoops the ball back desperately. And so, as is habitual, it goes to deuce. Both of them making the type of noise you might hear in a powerlifting gym - all grunts and groans - but Nadal holds, after Djokovic loses concentration. The second set is still not over, at two hours and five minutes in.
Nadal 6-2 3-4 Djokovic*
The latest epic, and we are approaching two hours of this and not even out of the second set. The Nadal radar, the engine, seem to be failing. Not good signs here. But a decent drop gains him a foothold, as does a Djokovic error. Suddenly, it’s 30-30, but Djokovic roars when Nadal nets, his power failing him. And still it goes to deuce. And a Djoko double hands Nadal a break point. It doesn’t last long, as Djokovic hammers a smash home. Then comes a backhand, followed down the line by a huge grunt. Nadal saves, and deuce again it is. Followed by a volley from Djokovic. Then Nadal saves the next, tempting Djokovic into going too long. Then Nadal misses a forehand and Djokovic holds, to lead the second set. There comes a loud roar.
Nadal* 6-2 3-3 Djokovic
Nadal needs to hold, and both he and Djokovic know it. The defending champion’s eye is in, and he takes control of a rally, and goes to 0-30, in sight of a break. Then Nadal disguises a winner, top-spinning down the line. Then, he slips, and nets for a break point. Two of them, the first is saved. The second is saved, and then Nadal, after a mighty rally, takes the advantage. Djokovic not happy, he complains about the noise but he forces Nadal into a mistake to draw the game back to deuce. Djokovic misses a return on the Nadal second serve, but then saves with a forehand clout beyond the wingspan of his opponent. We go beyond ten minutes again. Then Nadal, the ball spinning behind him, sends it back over, and can serve for the game again. And yet he double faults. Nadal is given a time penalty, and yet the ball bounces and he clubs home. Up to 13 minutes, and then, with a winner begging, the ball’s bounce leads him to go too long. Then, back-pedalling, he nets, and there’s a break point on offer. Djokovic hits the net cord, and then, Nadal can’t put enough gas on the ball to get over the net. A fourth break point...saved after Djokovic’s drop shot is poor. A fifth on offer, as Nadal’s forehand down the line misses the line, and this time it’s taken, as Nadal, looking tired, misses his backhand pass.
Nadal* 6-2 3-2 Djokovic
Djok stop volleys an overhead to go 15-0 up, then comes 30-15, and Djokovic lopes up to the net, and angles a drop volley for the winner. Then he takes the game for the service hold to loud applause. Game on.
Nadal* 6-2 3-1 Djokovic
Hello. Nadal hits a couple of loose ones. Djokovic, his expression dark, his breathing seeming a bit heavy, may have a way back in at 30-30. And then, Nadal goes long and then Djokovic hits the ball, only to call it out. He gets the benefit, and a break point. Then Nadal misses a drop shot. Djokovic has his way back in, and his third win so far.
Nadal 6-2 3-0 Djokovic*
Djok woe as he nets a chance going begging. He looks a little short. But he does send Nadal scrabbling, with a backhand stab that sends the Spaniard the wrong way. It still goes to deuce as Nadal loops a winner down the line, almost shovelling it home. Then Djokovic, with the court opened up to him, nets a gimme. Then, just as Djokovic looks to have saved a break point, Nadal skids in and his drop shot bounces twice and beyond, At this point, this is an absolute gubbing.
Nadal* 6-2 2-0 Djokovic
Oh my! Djokovic looks like he’s actually won a rally, and yet Nadal still backhands beyond him. Then clatters an ace, then blams a forehand, and it’s already 40-0. Soon enough, the job is done, and we go back to the Djokovic serve.
Nadal 6-2 1-0 Djokovic*
Good lord above, another epic. Double fault, the first, from Djokovic, takes it to 15-15. But then he reads Nadal’s return to whip in a winner, that’s soon levelled at 30-30 by a Nadal smash. Nadal is the man with his eye in. Then, some scrambling from Nadal lands Djokovic in trouble, and another break point. Nadal goes long with his return and it’s deuce. No problem, Nadal soon grabs another, before Djokovic sends him chasing all over the court to level. Nadal, his style like that of an Alexandre Dumas swordsman, slashes a volley home for another break. Djok hanging on for dear life, bullies home the leveller. This is ludicrously good. Djokovic starting to play himself into form? Perhaps not, he overcooks a backhand. But back to deuce, before Nadal carves a drop shot in an acute angle. The umpteenth break point arrives, the umpteenth break point is saved. And another, Nadal drilling one down the line. Djokovic saves the sixth break point, and the game goes to 12 minutes long. Then comes a seventh as Djokovic nets, and then, finally, it arrives. Nadal speeds to the net and clubs home.
Nadal misses a volley to go 0-15 down. That was going begging. It goes to 15-30, but this time a volley at the net goes his way. Djokovic wails as he misses one that hands over a set point to Nadal. And there’s another as Djokovic stumbles and nets. The early lead is with the king of Philippe Chatrier.
Djokovic* 2-5 Nadal
Nadal gets the benefit of a net cord to level at 15-15 but Djokovic at least makes him serve out for the first set.
Djokovic 1-5 Nadal*
Nadal races to what looks an unassailable lead in the first set after Djokovic overhits.
Djokovic* 1-4 Nadal
Unbelievable rally at 30-30, clouted home by Djokovic. But Nadal gets to break point, then whips the ball down the line to break again. Tennis from heaven.
Djokovic 1-3 Nadal*
A long rally at the start, won by Nadal after a Djokovic error. Then he makes amend by clattering a winner home, Nadal left sliding, then it goes to 15-30, then he bludgeons his way to two break points. The first is wasted when Djokovic’s lob spins out, the second is won by Nadal’s smash at the net. Then Djok misses an overhead, only to save himself on the next point with a sliced drop. Nadal, though, holds. This will be an all-nighter, time to reach for the Pro Plus.
Djokovic* 1-2 Nadal
Djok will be using his power to try and get the job done. It’s a successful policy, and he races to his first game with an ace.
Djokovic 0-2 Nadal*
Every point is rapt with tension. This feels like it might go on forever. At 30-30, Nadal loops a backhand winner down the line, beautifully judged. Djokovic thought it was going out. And then Nadal, skidding in, scoops a drop shot home. The 13-time champ has the early lead.
Djokovic* 0-1 Nadal
Ok, here we go, and it’s a rowdy crowd on Philippe Chatrier, with Djokovic to throw first. At 0-15, they play a prog-rock album length of a point, ended by Djoko hitting into the net. Then Nadal blams a winner for 30-30. The quality is already sky-high, even compared to Zverev and Alcaraz. Djokovic skids a serve to go to 40-30. Then, off the net cord, Nadal tops the ball down for deuce. Then Nadal reads a Djokovic volley, and has an early break point. Djokovic levels with a lob. This is already an epic. Djoko overhits, and another break point arrives. It’s saved, too. Another break point, forced by Nadal’s forehand. And then, it’s taken. Well well well. Incredible.
Nadal and Djojovic see each other in the tunnel but there is no eye contact.
The scores: Nadal 21 - 20 Djokovic. That’s what’s on the line here. There’s a few boos for Djoko as he comes in, while Nadal was cheered. “It blows,” says John McEnroe, as Mats Wilander attempts to explain it away as that silly Ronaldo “siu” thing. It’s not that, it’s boos. Remember that last year Djokovic won the game between them, winning the semi-final.
The biggest game ever? Maybe, probably. History is on the line.
Àlex Corretja speaks to Sasha Zverev, who has a broad smile.
Shitting my pants, at the end of the day I knew I had to play my best. I told him at the net he is going to win it a lot of times. I hope I win before he gives us no chance at all. The match was turning his way so I am very happy I won the tie-breaker and didn’t have to play a five-set match, lose a five-set match like I did last year.
Zverev begins by fooling Alcaraz with the drop shot. Then Alcaraz nets with a backhand for 2-0 to Zverev. He somehow digs out a winner to the back of the court for 1-2. Then Zverev’s service return goes long. Zverev’s return then tempts him into netting what looks an easy volley. But then another of those whipped forehands down the line for 3-3. Then comes an angled winner for 4-3 to the Spaniard. Then Zverev levels with a winner. Then it goes to 5-4 with a pair of Alcaraz drop shots. Zverev speeds to mid-court to level at 5-5. Here comes the witching hour. Alcaraz skids a winner that Zverev cannot return, and he has set point. He misses, hitting the net with a backhand. Then, Zverev somehow, has match point, as Alcaraz serves him up a volley at the net. And then, on the Zverev serve, Alcaraz keeps up the pressure. This is ludicrous now. Zverev’s scoop volley sets up another serve, and he has match point on the Alcaraz serve. Zverev, from the back of the court, drills it home. What a shot, what a match. Incredible. What a roar from Zverev.
Zverev* 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-6 Alcaraz
Zverev gets to 40-0 with some smart serving, then smashes for a love service game. The tie-break it is.
Zverev 6-4 6-4 4-6 5-6 *Alcaraz
Alcaraz brims with confidence, Zverev looks like someone who’s twice blown his chance to win the match. Off a net cord, Alcaraz forces the pressure back on the Zverev serve.