Nadal outlasts Felix in five and places Djokovic’s blockbuster at Roland Garros | ATP circuit
In front of a packed crowd on the court Philippe Chatrierthe 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 major.
In a dramatic clash, Nadal lost the first set of a match at Roland Garros for the 11th time only. However, the 13-time champion kept his composure and showed his winning mentality to advance after four hours and 23 minutes on a ground he had so much success on.
“He’s a great player without a doubt. One of the best players in the world,” Nadal said when asked about Auger-Aliassime during his on-court interview. power and mobility. For me, he was a very, very tough opponent today. He’s doing a lot of things well and has improved and I wish him the best for the rest of the season. He’s a very important victory for me without a doubt.
Prior to Sunday, Nadal had gone five sets in just two of his 111 matches at the event. He won John Isner 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4 in 2011 and defeated Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7 in 2013. Buoyed by his victory, the 35-year-old has now reached the quarter-finals in 16 of his 18 Paris appearances.
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The world No. 5 triumphed in australian open in January and is aiming to win a record 22nd Grand Slam crown this fortnight in Paris. The fifth seed will next face Djokovic after the loss of the first seed Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
The Serb beat the Spaniard in the semi-finals last year before being shot down Stefanos Tsitsipas lift the trophy in Paris for the second time. Djokovic leads Nadal 30-28 in their ATP Head2Head series. Nadal has won seven of his nine matches at Roland Garros.
“We know each other well,” Nadal said ahead of his game against Djokovic. “We have a lot of history together. He came here after winning in Rome. For me, it was not an ideal situation to arrive here. But here we are. We are at Roland Garros, it is my favorite place without a doubt. The only thing I can tell you, I’m going to be focused and do my best. The only thing I can guarantee is that I will fight until the end.”
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Nadal now leads Auger-Aliassime 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, but it was their first meeting since Nadal’s uncle, Tony Nadal, began coaching Auger-Aliassime last year. ‘Uncle Toni’ was not in Auger-Aliassime’s box during the match, due to his relationship with his nephew. Under ‘Uncle Toni’, Nadal clinched 14 Grand Slam crowns before parting ways in 2017.
In a spirited start, it was Auger-Aliassime who started best, quickly finding his range in the opening set. The Canadian’s flat shot and depth forced Nadal to make mistakes, with the Canadian breaking twice to go forward. He continued to swing freely at the start of the second set, pulling the Spaniard around the baseline with his precision.
However, after saving two break points on serve at 1-1 in the second set, Nadal started to grow into the game. He cut back on unforced errors, targeting the backhand of the world No.9 with a big topspin to dictate. The Spaniard committed just nine unforced errors in the second and third sets to take the lead.
Auger-Aliassime refused to leave early in the fourth set, however, securing early breaks to build momentum in his favor as he hit 14 winners in the set and kept his cool to force a decider . However, in front of a vocal crowd, Nadal would not be denied. He got the crucial break in game eight before holding serve to secure his victory, letting out a roar of delight.
“I didn’t start the game well. I had a lot of chances in the first set, but I couldn’t convert one, so it was a tough first set for me,” Nadal said. “After coming back the next two sets, I think I finished the third much better.
“The start of the fourth was very difficult. The first game was 0/30 then 40/0 and I lost both games. Then it’s difficult. He has a huge serve and I couldn’t push him away. I’m very happy with how I adapted at the end. I was able to play more aggressively and go to the net more often and that definitely made the difference.
Before this year, Auger-Aliassime had never won a game in Paris in two previous appearances. The Canadian went from straight sets to love for the first time in their opener against the Chilean qualifier Jean Paul Varillas then eliminated
Camilo Ugo Carabelli and Filip Krajinovic.
The ninth seed was aiming to become the eighth player to reach the quarter-finals of all four Slam tournaments before turning 22. The other seven have all climbed to No. 1 in the world on the Pepperstone ATP Rankings during their careers.
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