“Do we play the same sport as the two of them?” – epic Djokovic Nadal semi-final leaves the world of tennis spellbound
After Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros on Friday, the tennis world took to social media to share their views on the clay-court classic
Friday night, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal put on an incredible spectacle for tennis fans as they battled for four hors and 11 minutes in the Roland-Garros semi-final. The match had plenty at stake as well, as another Grand Slam title for either player would have a major role in the way the G.O.A.T. narrative is written in the history books.
Not only were tennis fans astounded by by the level of play in the match, several payers, current and past, were left spellbound and flabbergasted by the level of play from the two legends and took to social media to lavish huge praise on both, including some of Djokovic’s and Nadal’s contemporaries such as Diego Schwartzman, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray.
Schwartzman, who was beaten by Nadal in the quarter-finals, was so awestruck by the level of play that he was left wondering if he and rest of the players play the same sport Djokovic and Nadal. “Do we tennis players play the same sport as the two of them?”
Like Schwartzman, Felicano Lopez also felt that Djokovic and Nadal were playing “a different sport”. “For many moments it has been possibly the best game I have seen in many years.”. Frenchman Nicolas Mahut echoed similar comments, “What is the name of the sport that Nadal and Djokovic practice? I don’t know but it looks really good.. #legendes“
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro (2009), who is working towards a comeback after yet another surgery, said the match made him want to face his former colleagues once again. “Tremendous game.. Can’t believe what they played! Thanks @DjokerNole @RafaelNadal . I dream of meeting them again”
Among the other ATP pros who tweeted about the match were three-time major winner Andy Murray, once a part of the Big Four club, former world No. 1 Andy Roddick, and Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez.
Murray, once a member of Big Four along with Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer, called the match “perfect” and said one “cannot play better clay court tennis than this.”
While the match was on, Roddick, never one to shy away from giving his honest opinion, called the semi-final as one of the “best matches he had ever seen” and highlighted the “unreal effort and execution” from Djokovic.
Former players Darren Cahill, Greg Rusedski and Patrick McEnroe, who all remain closely involved in the sport, even today, all hailed the efforts of Djokovic, who improved to 30-28 in his head-to-head against his biggest rival.
WTA stars also lavish praise on Djokovic Nadal after semi-final
It was not only the ATP pros who were closely following the Djokovic vs. Nadal semi-final, but also the women players, including former world No 1’s and multiple Slam winners Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Chris Evert among others.
Azarenka, who lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchnekova in the fourth round this year in Paris, described the level of play as “insane” while five-time Slam winner Maria Sharapova was awestruck by the display, and 18-time Major winner Chris Evert called it “the greatest match ever played”.
As usual, a section of Tennis Twitterati had a different opinion about the semi-final
Even as current and former legends of the sport, who know what it’s like to be in a similar setting and play that level of tennis in such an important context, heaped huge praise on the two legends, a section of the tennis twitterati refrained from calling it the greatest clay-court match ever, even as they admitted the third set was indeed of extraordinary level.
The section of fans who disagreed with the view that the match was among the greatest cited reasons including the fact that the quality of play dropped in the fourth set, and that the match did not extend to a deciding set, and that the match was not a final itself.
Djokovic calls it his best Roland-Garros match ever while Nadal is not so sure
Following the victory, Djokovic described the semi-final as “the best match” he has ever been part of at Roland-Garros and one of the top three of his career.
“Definitely the best match that I was part of ever in Roland Garros for me, and top three matches that I ever played in my entire career, considering quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and has been the dominant force in the last 15- plus years, and the atmosphere which was completely electric. For both players, a lot of support. Just amazing,” Djokovic said.
On the other hand, Nadal, who suffered only his third loss in 108 matches at the French Open, did not seem to have the same opinion about the match when he spoke to the Spanish media in his press conference and was asked if he felt that he had just played best version of Djokovic at Roland-Garros ?
When asked if this was the best Djokovic had played against him, Nadal responded in Spanish saying, “No It’s how I feel it, no. Him as well did not face the best me. He played a very good match. From my part, you had a match where I struggled, at some moments I did very well. But my ball was missing quality, it was not clinical enough in the rallies, which is necessary against him. It didn’t turn in my favour This kind of match, both of us can win. It was for him this time.”
For his part, Djokovic described it as “the best match” he has ever been part of at Roland-Garros and one of the top three of his career. “Definitely the best match that I was part of ever in Roland Garros for me, and top three matches that I ever played in my entire career, considering quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and has been the dominant force in the last 15- plus years, and the atmosphere which was completely electric. For both players, a lot of support. Just amazing.”
Irrespective of whether the match was among the greatest ever played or not, it certainly ranks among the best matches in the 58-match rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal, alongside the 2012 Australian Open final which Djokovic won in five hours and 53 minutes, their 2013 semi-final in Paris itself which Nadal won 9-7 in the fifth set, and the 2018 Wimbledon semi-final which Djokovic won 10-8 in the final set in five hours and 17 minutes. Tennis fans already cannot wait for Chapter 59. Wimbledon perhaps?