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Novak Djokovic Brace Up to Deliver Rafael Nadal Hammer Blow At French Open

Novak Djokovic

On Tuesday, Novak Djokovic renews his 16-year battle with Rafael Nadal at the French Open, where a semi-final position is on the line and a win might put an end to the 13-time champion’s Roland Garros career.

With 109 wins and only three losses in Paris since his title-winning debut in 2005, Nadal, who turns 36 on Friday, will be up against the reigning champion.

In the fourth round, 21-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime took the Spaniard to five sets for only the third time in his tournament career.

Nadal confessed immediately after that victory that not only this year’s French Open was on the line for him, but also his entire playing career.

“I know my situation, and I accept it. I can’t complain much,” said Nadal, who arrived in Paris unsure if he would be able to take part after suffering a recurrence in Rome of a chronic foot injury which has plagued him for large parts of his career.

“I am just enjoying the fact that I am here for one more year. And being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if it’s going to be my last at Roland Garros.

“I went through a tough process again with my foot, so I don’t know what can happen in the near future.”

Since their first meeting in 2006 at the French Open, Djokovic has a 30-28 advantage against Nadal.

Nadal leads the series 19-8 on clay and has won seven of the nine matches between the two in Paris.

Djokovic, on the other hand, won the Roland Garros semi-finals in 2021, en route to a second victory.

Night fears

After that setback, Nadal took a break from tennis, skipping Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the US Open.

After Djokovic was deported from Melbourne on the eve of the Australian Open, Nadal took advantage of the opportunity to win his 21st Grand Slam championship, breaking a tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer.

For the 16th time, both men are in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

Djokovic breezed through the quarterfinals. He’s won 22 sets in a row, dating back to his victory at the Italian Open in Rome.

A battle of wills over scheduling adds a new dimension to the struggle.

Nadal has stated that he will not compete in the night match.

Carlos Alcaraz, 19, a compatriot who will play Alexander Zverev on Tuesday, said it would be “unfair” if he was forced to play after 9 p.m. for the third time.

After dark, Nadal and Djokovic each played one match.

“I don’t like playing on clay at night because the humidity is higher, the ball is slower, and the conditions can be quite heavy, especially when it’s cold,” Nadal explained.

Djokovic has intimated that he would want to play Nadal as late as possible in the tournament.

“All I will say is Rafa and I would make different requests,” he said.

“I’m glad that I didn’t spend too much time on the court up to the quarter-finals, knowing that playing him in Roland Garros is always a physical battle. It’s a huge challenge and probably the biggest one that you can have here.”

Alcaraz show

Since Djokovic in 2006, Alcaraz is the youngest guy to reach the last eight in Paris.

He has a 20-2 record on clay court in 2022, with only one loss. He has a record of 32-3 for the year.

The sixth seed had to save a match point in the second round to beat compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas, but he has previously been unaffected by the pressure.

Alcaraz takes against Zverev, the third seed, after defeating the German in the final of the Madrid Masters, where he also defeated Nadal and Djokovic.

Zverev, who is attempting to reach the semi-finals for the second year in a row, likewise dismisses the nighttime conditions.

“I don’t mind the evening sessions when it’s 30 degrees during the day,” said the 25-year-old.

“When it’s 14 degrees, then in the night it’s going to be what, 8, 9, something like that, it gets difficult.

“My serve is going to be even slower, my forehand is going to be even slower. It’s not going to be an easy thing for me to play at 9:30 at night with no sunlight, with no heat, and 8 degrees.”

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