Rafa Nadal is all heart as he beats Novak Djokovic, to face Zverev

Rafael Nadal
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

It was already close in the fourth set at Roland Garros because Novak Djokovic was playing terrific tennis in the quarterfinals.

But Rafa Nadal seemed to say, “I am going to play spectacular, and I will not make any errors.” Then, in the fourth set, he only did a few times and he won it. Hands down.

On the last shot, not with his great forehand, but his faithful backhand, he nailed it down the line, beating the No. 1 Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4).

The Serb was down 0-3 in the second set, and then he was locked in. In the third set, Nadal continued to push, sprinting, moving it around. Over nearly 20 years, he was not terrific at the net but now Nadal is so effective.

Djokovic saw that and in the third set, Nadal was punching him, and he snagged it, 6-2.

You have to say that in the fourth tiebreaker, Nadal thought that when he had a real change, he could go for it. He flew.

The Spaniard has won 13 Grand Slams at Roland Garros. Can he win it again? Possibly, because at the round of 16, he was forced to edge the Canadian, beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours, 20 minutes. Nadal played fantastic in the fifth, so many stunningly shots. He was running, twisting, almost diving, and he put it away.

But, on Friday, he will face Alexander Zverev, who took down the 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. It looked like the young Spaniard Alcaraz was going to secure another victory. But hold on. Zverev tightened up his game. Even though Zverev nearly won the 2020 US Open, he was so close, but in the fifth set he was very good, but not perfect when he lost in a tiebreaker, 7-6(6) versus Dominic Thiem.

Now against Nadal in the semis, Zverev will crack the ball consistently from the backcourt, and he thinks he can punch the opponents. He has to face Nadal on Friday. They have played each other nine times, with Nadal won six times, and Zverev won three.

Yes, Nadal can be dominating on clay, but over the last four matches the German won three of them. In 2021, he beat him at on the high dirt. However, Nadal smacked him in Rome.

Is it even? No, but Zverev will try to kick the doors in. That should be a very wild match.

On Wednesday, the veteran Marin Cilic survived Andrey Rublev 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 in 4 hours,10 minutes. Really, when he is on, he can be very strong with his forehand, his backhand and his serve. He was lethal. He has won 34 five-setters, which is way up there….

Leylah Fernandez went down after she was injured. However, Martina Trevisan has been on fire, winning ten straight matches. The Italian is 28 years old, and she has struggled for 10 years, but currently, she helped her mental game. “I was re-educated to eat, to make peace with my wounds,” she wrote. “To appreciate my new body, to forgive those who made mistakes and to find my time to do things. I think the importance is, who I am right now, that I’m happy on the court. I’m doing what I love. So, my past is the past, and it helped me to be in the present, to be what I am right now.”

There are three others in the semis with the huge favorite, Iga Swiatek, American Coco Gauff and Russian Daria Kasatkina. Gauff blasted Sloane Stephens in the quarters, and she is so much more consistent now. She will face against Trevisan. New ground for both of them as neither of them have reached a Grand Slam semi before. Both of them will be nervous, that is for sure…

But not Swiatek, who is almost perfect and she won RG two years ago. She will be so fast and hit it very deep. If Kasatkina has a chance, then she has to go for it quickly.

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