Rafa is handed his second loss in Paris on 29th Birthday




Novak Djokovic finally managed to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open at the seventh attempt but it was no occasion for celebration. The defeated, ‘King of Clay’, Rafael Nadal left Court Philippe Chatrier to a standing ovation for what seems to be the end of an era of Rafa’s magnificence on clay that too sadly on his 29th birthday.

Novak Djokovic finally managed to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open

Novak Djokovic finally managed to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open

Novak Djokovic crushed the nine time French Open title winner, Rafael Nadal to move into the semi-finals of the tournament. The 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 defeat for Rafa is just his second defeat at Roland Garros in 72 matches.

After his loss, Rafael said, “The only thing that is sure is I won nine times. I don’t know if I am going to win ten but nine I always win. I lost in 2009 and it was not the end. I lost in 2015 and it is not the end”.

Top seed and current world number one Novak proved too much for the Spaniard to handle even on his favourite clay court at Roland Garros. This defeat only his second after a fourth round exit in 2009, will see him slip out of the top ten world ranking for the first time in over a decade.

In the first set, Novak raced into a 4-0 lead however, Nadal pulled back the match to level at 4-4. However Novak put up a good fight and snatched away the set. Nadal seemed rather distracted by the watering of the courts between breaks instead of focusing on his game. Novak managed a two set lead with a courageous volley and stayed near the net to see Nadal make an unforced error by netting the ball.

Nadal after losing the first two sets looked out of tune and agitated. This high number of unforced error and not being able to convert break points cost him the match. Compared to just four winner in the final set, Djokovic managed thirteen winners.

“I didn’t want to give him too many opportunities where he could dictate the play,” said Djokovic, “I tried to mix up the pace, to get into the net. I played drop shots, high balls, fast balls – always something different. Obviously he didn’t serve that well, especially in the second and third sets. He made some unforced errors that are not characteristic for him on the forehand side. But that’s what happens when you don’t feel comfortable on the court.”

Novak is now on a 27 match-winning streak. This win also meant that he ended Rafa’s 39 successive wins at the French Open since 2009.

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Anjan K Merkap

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