French Open: Djokovic stuns King of Clay Nadal in semifinal
Novak Djokovic handed 13-time champion Rafael Nadal only his third defeat in 16 years and 108 matches at the French Open on Friday to reach his sixth Roland Garros final in an epic showdown which even beat the country’s Covid-19 curfew.
In their 58th career clash, Djokovic triumphed 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 and stays on course to capture a 19th major and become the first man in over 50 years to win all four Slams twice.
Djokovic, the 2016 champion in Paris who had also beaten Nadal at the 2015 tournament, will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final in what will be his 29th championship match at the Slams.
Tsitsipas had earlier become the first Greek to reach a Grand Slam final with a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Alexander Zverev.
Covid-19 curfew lifted
The French Open semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic was given permission to be concluded in front of spectators on Friday despite the tie exceeding an 11pm Covid-19 curfew.
“In agreement with the national authorities, the match will come to an end in your presence,” said a stadium announcer to 5,000 spectators on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Djokovic had just won the third set of the semifinal on a tiebreak when the news was announced for a two sets to one lead.
Some fans had already chanted: “We will not leave, we will not leave” as the 11pm curfew came into view.
Upon learning that they had been allowed to stay, spectators began chanting “Thank you Macron! Thank you Macron!” in gratitude to the apparent intervention of the French President.
Nadal and Djokovic, meeting for the 58th time, had already been on court for three and a half hours.
On Wednesday, 5,000 fans were shunted off the same court when Djokovic’s quarterfinal with Matteo Berrettini had passed the curfew time.
“We paid 500 euros for two thirds of a match, it is unacceptable,” said one angry fan at that match.