29th May, 2022
Rafael Nadal won a Roland Garros thriller Sunday when he survived a major scare from Felix Auger-Aliassime to set a blockbuster quarter-final showdown with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Paris.
In front of a packed crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier, the Spaniard overcame an onslaught from the Canadian to advance 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and improve to 109-3 at the clay-court major.
In a dramatic clash, Nadal lost the first set in a match at Roland Garros for just the 11th time.
However, the 13-time Roland Garros champion kept his composure and demonstrated his trademark winning mentality to advance after four hours and 23 minutes on a court he has had so much success on.
Prior to Sunday, Nadal had been taken to five sets in just two of his 111 matches at the event.
He defeated John Isner 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4 in 2011 and overcame Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7 in 2013.
Nadal, who did not drop a set en route to the fourth round, has now has only failed to reach the quarter-finals twice in his 18 appearances in Paris.
The World No. 5 triumphed at the Australian Open in January and is aiming to win a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam crown this fortnight in Paris.
The fifth seed will next face Djokovic after the top seed defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
The Serbian defeated the Spaniard in the semi-finals last year before he downed Stefanos Tsitsipas to lift the trophy in Paris for the second time.
Djokovic leads Nadal 30-28 in their ATP Head2Head series, but Nadal holds a 7-2 record at Roland Garros.
Nadal now leads Auger-Aliassime 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, but this was their first meeting since Nadal’s uncle, Toni Nadal, started to coach Auger-Aliassime last year.
‘Uncle Toni’ was not in Auger-Aliassime’s box during the match, though, due to his relationship with his nephew.
Under the guidance of ‘Uncle Toni’, Nadal clinched 14 Grand Slam crowns before they split in 2017