Image Source: LA Times
Rafael Nadal has won just three of his 112 tennis matches at Roland Garros in his career. But an even more ludicrous indication of his absolute supremacy is how few players have even managed to push him to the brink of doubt. Only twice in his 17-year career had an opponent taken him to five sets at the French Open, and both times it was on Sunday afternoon.
With quality, courage, and conviction in his abilities, Felix Auger-Aliassime strode onto Court Philippe Chatrier, forcing a fifth set and pushing Nadal all the way to the final. Nadal, on the other hand, soared even when he was struggling with his game and needed to step up. Nadal defeated Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to get to the quarter-finals of the French Open.
As a result of Nadal’s triumph, he and Novak Djokovic will renew their storied rivalry on the grandest stages on Tuesday when they meet for the 59th time in the quarterfinals.
After the match, Nadal stated, “In the end, the sport is typically fairly straightforward, isn’t it?” “If you play better, you have a better chance; if you play worse, you obviously have a lower chance, right?” I won the match in that situation because I performed well. I had a lot of problems when I wasn’t playing well, didn’t I?
Toni Nadal took the most prominent seat in the house — the front row of the presidential box – for the match-up between his two employers, his nephew and his charge. After the excitement of Real Madrid’s Champions League victory, he watched as Nadal began the match out of sorts on a very cold afternoon.
While Nadal made multiple errors and squandered numerous break points, Auger-Aliassime served brilliantly and played consistently off the ground to take a 5-1 lead. After regaining one break at the end of the first set, Nadal embarked on what appeared to be an unstoppable comeback that resulted with a break at 4-3 in the second. Nadal then rode his momentum all the way to a two-set victory.
Nadal began the fourth set with a flurry of unforced errors, just as it appeared that he had regained control. Nadal dropped his serve in the first game, then quickly regained it after making more terrible forehand errors.
Auger-Aliassime stayed focused on himself while Nadal battled. He harassed Nadal with well-timed drop shots, continued to search for forehands to dominate with, and dominated at the net. He received a fifth set as a reward for his perseverance and poise.
Auger-Aliassime pushed himself to the edge in the final set, serving brilliantly and volleying with difficulty. At 4-3, though, Nadal made his move, radically raising his game by attacking returns and closing down the net himself. Nadal chased down Auger-drop Aliassime’s volley and sent a slice backhand into the open court to take the decisive break after pressing hard to create a break point opportunity. After alternating chanting for the two players throughout the match, the crowd ended up screaming for one man solely as he served out the match with ease.
The next stumbling block for Nadal has been identified. Djokovic had already defeated Diego Schwartzman, the 15th seed, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 earlier in the day. “Playing him at Roland Garros is always a physical challenge in addition to everything else,” Djokovic added. “It’s inevitable.” It’s a massive test, perhaps the largest you’ll face here at Roland Garros. “I’m up to the challenge.”
After defeating Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, Carlos Alcaraz advanced to his first quarter-final at the French Open. Next up for him is third seed Alexander Zverev.