World number one men’s singles player Novak Djokovic on Friday survived a tough semi-final match against Stefanos Tsitsipas to book a final clash with Rafael Nadal in French Open.
Djokovic beat the world number six Tstisipas 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 in a match that lasted three hours and 54 minutes. Nadal, on the other hand, had an easy last four outing against Diego Schwartzman. The 12-time Roland Garros champion won 6-3, 6-3, 7-6.
“This is the house of Rafa,” said Djokovic after his match against Tsitsipas. “I will have the motivation to win. I beat him in the quarter-finals in 2015 but this will be the biggest challenge – playing Nadal on clay,” the Serb added ahead of his 56th match against Nadal.
Meanwhile, this was just the fourth time when the 17-tine Grand Slam winner was dragged to a five-setter in the semi-final stage at Roland-Garros.
A double break had helped Djokovic take a lead of two sets and a late break allowed him to serve for the match in the third set at 5-4.
But a determined Tsitsipas made a scintillating comeback to save the match points and break his opponent twice to win the set 7-5.
The 22-year-old then carried the same momentum in the fourth set and won the opening two sets on the trot. Djokovic did manage to get level at 2-2, but Tsitsipas exhibited one of the best Tennis of his career to take the set 6-4 and bring parity into the contest.
He was quick to reverse the momentum in the fifth. Djokovic raced to a double-break lead in the decider and wrapped up the win in three hours and 54 minutes.
“Stefanos is a big player but after four hours he was tired. He gave me a lot of trouble. I looked calm on the surface but it was a different story inside,” added Djokovic who will be in his 27th Slam final.
Chasing an 18th Grand Slam title, Djokovic will face the greatest ever clay-court player Nadal, who is yet to drop a set at this year’s French Open so far.
It had looked the -year-old would be up for a rough day at office after his the first game of the match, which was also served by him, went on for 14 minute where Nadal had to save two break points.
However, as soon as he wrapped up the first game, Nadal regained his usual brilliance and toom a two-break lead in no time before winning the opening set 6-3.
The story of the match remained constant throughout with the Spaniard not allowing his Argentine opponent gaining any kind of momentum. The third set proved to be tougher but Schwartzman’s efforts were never enough to cause an upset.
“It’s always incredible to play here and this is a very special moment,” Nadal said after his 10th win in 11 matches against Schwartzman.
“I played a couple of bad points in the third set but Diego is a very tough player. He probably makes more breaks on the tour than others.
“It was difficult until the end but it was a positive match for me.”