PARIS – Novak Djokovic stopped Rafael Nadal’s candidacy for the 14th French Open and handed over to King Clay only his third loss in 108 matches of the tournament, returning to win their thriller in the semifinals 3-6, 6-3, 7 -6 (4), 6-2 on Friday night.
In the next show of huge tennis between the rivals, the match lasted 4 hours and 11 minutes. After trailing 0-2 in the fourth set, Djokovic rocked six games in a row to win.
Djokovic will be looking for his second Roland Garros trophy and 19th overall overall when he plays in the final on Sunday for the sixth time, tying Bjorn Borg to No. 2 in the race behind Nadal (13).
The opponent of the first placed Djokovic will be the fifth winner Stefanos Tsitsipas.
This will be the 29th Grand Slam final of Djokovic’s career and the first for Tsitsipas, who beat Alexander Zverev in five sets in a semifinal match earlier Friday.
Nadal had won the last four titles in Paris, part of his collection of 20 helmets tied to Roger Federer the most man in the history of tennis.
Nadal, a 14-time French Open winner who turned 35 last week, fell to 105-3 in his career at Roland Garros – with two of those losses now in Djokovic’s hands.
The masterpiece from the third set lasted 1 hour, only 33 minutes, and the evening was approaching in the country at 11 pm because of COVID-19. Djokovic’s previous match was delayed by more than 20 minutes while the crowd – limited to 5,000 people under coronavirus restrictions – was cleared from the stadium, but an announcement was made Friday that everyone would be able to stay until the end of the match. .
Earlier chants in French “We will not leave! We will not leave! ”They were replaced by choruses of the national anthem and thanks to President Emmanuel Macron.
It was the 58th match between rivals, more than any other two men in the professional era of the sport. Now Djokovic leads 30-28, but he is 10-7 behind in the Slam and 7-2 in the French Open.
Djokovic won the French Open in 2016 and could join Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to have won each of the four Grand Slam tournaments twice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.