Novak Djokovic Defeats Rafael Nadal After Epic 2021 French Open Semifinals Match
Friday's match marked the 58th time that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played each other
The tennis stars - who faced off in the French Open finals last year - met again during this year's semifinals, which lasted four hours long. Nadal won the first set 6-3 and Djokovic took the second set 6-3 followed by the third set 7-6 and the fourth set 6-2.
Ahead of the match - which marked the 58th time the pair have played against each other - Nadal, 35, was ranked third in the world, while Djokovic, 34 was ranked No. 1 among men's singles tennis players. (Friday's match was the ninth meeting between Nadal and Djokovic at the French Open.)
After the match, Djokovic called it a "privilege" to play against Nadal. "You tell yourself no pressure, but there is a lot of pressure. Trust me," Djokovic said. "Pressure is a privilege."
Nadal is currently tied with Roger Federer with 20 wins. Meanwhile, Djokovic has 18 Grand Slam championships under his belt.
The Spanish sports star has also won the French Open 13 times, while Djokovic has only taken the title once.
The Open's other men's semifinal was played between Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas and Germany's Alexander Zverev on Friday. Tsitsipas emerged triumphant after five sets, becoming the first Greek player to ever advance to a Grand Slam finals, according to the AFP.
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Last October, when Nadal and Djokovic went head-to-head at the 2020 French Open, Djokovic said that facing Nadal on the clay courts is always a unique challenge.
"Let's face it, it's the biggest challenge that you can have playing on clay against Nadal on this court. It doesn't get bigger than that," Djokovic said after his loss, according to CNN. "The vibes are different walking on the court with him. But that's why our rivalry has been historic I think for this sport."