World No. 1 Novak Djokovic called Friday’s semi-final, in which he consigned 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal to only his third defeat in 108 matches at Roland Garros, the best and the most beautiful game he has played in Paris.
“It was for sure the most beautiful match I’ve played here in Paris,” Djokovic said on court after the match.
“You tell yourself there is no pressure. But there is a lot of pressure, trust me,” he added.
Djokovic lost the first set 3-6 and history between the two suggested that he would most likely lose the match. In the matches between these two, the winner of the first set has claimed the match 50 out of 57 times.
But Djokovic defied history, winning the next three sets to set up title clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the final.
“I was feeling good mentally, physically. I was motivated. I had a really clear plan in tactics, what I needed to do in order to perform better than I [did] in last year’s [French Open] final (in which he was beaten in straight sets),” Djokovic said.
“The beginning of the match was kind of resembling last year’s final, but I just managed to get myself back into the first set. Even though I lost it, I felt like 3-6 down, I found my game,” added the Serb.
“Even though I did not have such a great start, I was not too nervous, because I felt like I was hitting the ball very well,” Djokovic said before adding that he was ready for the spin the Spanish applies in his forehand.
“It was just a matter of me working my way into the match and adjusting to his ball, which is completely different than any other player’s ball. The amount of spin he plays with from the forehand corner, it is tremendous. But I was ready.”
The Serb world No. 1, who will be eyeing his 19th Grand Slam title, to come within one Grand Slam title of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who both have 20 titles, called it his best match at Roland and one of the three of his career
“Definitely, the best match that I was a part of in Roland Garros for me and the top three matches that I have ever played in my entire career. Considering the quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and has been a dominant force in the last 15-plus years and the atmosphere which was completely electric,” said Djokovic.
The 34-year-old said he will be able to enjoy this victory only a little and not very much because he faces Tsitsipas after a day’s gap on Sunday in the final.
“I enjoyed this victory a little bit. I don’t have much time. I think I deserve after this big win to relax a little bit without thinking about the next opponent even though it is the finals of a Grand Slam but I have time to think about him (Stefanos Tsitsipas) maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow is the second part of the day. Right now, it’s all about resting and hopefully being able to be fit to compete,” he added.