Sports Djokovic-Nadal, Tsitsipas-Zverev in French Open semifinals
Djokovic hands Nadal 3rd loss in 108 French Open matches
PARIS (AP) — Sprinting, sliding and stretching, anticipating each other’s moves for four sets and more than four hours, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal produced a masterpiece in the French Open semifinals. Djokovic, as it happens, is one of only two men in tennis history who knows what it takes to beat Nadal at Roland Garros. And now Djokovic has done it twice — this time ending Nadal’s bid for a 14th championship there and record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title overall by coming back to win their 58th career matchup 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Friday night.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal know there's something special about the two of them meeting in the French Open semifinals — even if they'd prefer, of course, for it to happen a round later.
“Each time we face each other, there’s that extra tension and expectations,” the top-seeded Djokovic said. “Just vibes are different walking on the court with him.”
The third-seeded Nadal's take?
“In some way," he said, "we are practicing, we are living the sport, for these moments.”
Whatever the quality of play might be between Nadal and Djokovic in Paris on Friday — their semifinal will follow the one between No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and No. 6 Alexander Zverev of Germany — the numbers associated with the matchup are overwhelming.
Djokovic, Nadal, Federer in same half of French Open field
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all ended up in the same half of the French Open men's field in the draw Thursday, meaning no more than one of them can reach the final. The Big Three top the leaderboard for Grand Slam men’s singles titles: Federer and Nadal head to Roland Garros, where play begins Sunday, tied with 20, while Djokovic has 18. No. 20 seed Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., faces Brazil's Thiago Monteiro in the first round, while No. 20 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal meets Andreas Seppi of Italy.
Start with the big picture: Nadal is two wins away from his 21st Grand Slam title, which would break the men's mark he currently shares with Roger Federer.
Djokovic is trying to get to No. 19, which would leave him just one behind his rivals.
Nadal is 105-2 at Roland Garros — Djokovic is responsible for one of those defeats, in the 2015 quarterfinals; Robin Soderling the other — and eyeing a 14th championship at the clay-court major.
Djokovic won La Coupe des Mousquetaires in 2016 and could join Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to win each of the four Grand Slam tournaments twice.
“It’s not like any other match. Let’s face it, it’s the biggest challenge that you can have — playing on clay against Nadal on this court, in which he has had so much success in his career,” Djokovic said. “In the final stages of a Grand Slam, it doesn’t get bigger than that.”
Roland-Garros: Tsitsipas Croque MEDVEDEV
© Provided by Sports.co.uk Stefanos Tsitsipas The shock was expected and it was Stefanos Tsitsipas who had the last word. Series number 5 qualified for the second year in a row for the semi-finals of the international people of France and remains undefeated in the quarterfinals of Grand Slam unlike Daniil Medvedev. A break ball is all the Greek needed to make a difference in the first set.
It is their 58th showdown, more than between any other two men in the Open era, which dates to 1968; Djokovic leads 29-28.
Nadal is ahead 10-6 at the Slams, 7-1 at the French Open (including a straight-set victory in the 2020 final) and 19-7 on clay (including a win in last month's Italian Open final).
This one comes in the semifinals, rather than the final, because Nadal recently slid from No. 2 to No. 3 in the rankings. The tournament seedings strictly follow the rankings, so Nadal got no boost for his dominance at the place, and a random draw determined which half of the bracket he was placed in.
“It’s going to be a special match,” said 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman, who lost to Nadal in the quarterfinals Wednesday but not before ending his 36-set winning streak in Paris. “Everyone wants to see that.”
Thewill be No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova against No. 17 Maria Sakkari or unseeded Barbora Krejcikova. The last four women all were first-time major semifinalists.
French Open schedule 2021: Full draws, TV coverage, channels & more to watch every tennis match
Here's everything you need to know about watching the 2021 French Open, including a full TV schedule and live-streaming information.Now with things about to get underway, all eyes will be on the "King of Clay," Rafael Nadal, as he goes for his 14th title — and fifth consecutive — at Roland Garros. If he wins the tournament, he will break a tie with Roger Federer for most men's Grand Slam titles. The duo is tied at 20.
No matter what happens Friday, the men's final will be Old vs. New.
That's because it will pit someone in his 30s who is one of the greatest ever — Nadal, 35, or Djokovic, 34 — against someone in his 20s with plenty of potential but zero Grand Slam titles — Tsitsipas, 22, or Zverev, 24.
Tsitsipas vs. Zverev offers a glimpse of what the future of men's tennis could be.
Both are all-court, all-surface players who are 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) or taller. And both have now become regulars in the latter stages of majors.
"The Grand Slams, they’re still a different animal. ... You got to learn how to play them, as well. Very rarely does anybody come in and, all of a sudden, perform his best at Grand Slams. Yes, we’ve seen Rafa do it, but Rafa is sometimes not human," Zverev said. “For young guys, it is a learning curve. Hopefully I can say that, slowly but surely, I’m starting to get the hang of it.”
This is his third semifinal in the past five Slams, and he was the runner-up to Dominic Thiem at last year’s U.S. Open.
It's the third major semifinal in a row and fourth overall for Tsitsipas, who is 0-3 so far.
“I feel privileged that I’m in that position, and I feel, obviously, I’ve put in a lot of daily hard work (that) has been a key element of me being here,” Tsitsipas said after eliminating No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. “But, you know, my ego tells me I want more.”
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Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press
FRENCH OPEN 2021: Federer, Serena at last Paris Slam of 30s .
Roger Federer himself put it quite simply recently: “How can I think of winning the French Open?” After all, the 20-time major champion will be entered in his first Grand Slam tournament in more than 15 months when play begins on the red clay of Roland Garros in the leafy southwestern outskirts of Paris on Sunday. Consider this summary of his circumstances: Federer has accumulated more operations on his right knee (two) than victories (one, in three matches) since February 2020. “The moment you know you’re not going to win the French Open, it can’t be your goal. At least at my level.