Novak Djokovic reached the Roland Garros 2021 final by beating Rafael Nadal in four sets. Nadal and Djokovic, who find themselves in the ring for the fifty-eighth time, can now afford to skip the study phase. In contrast with history, the ninth on Philippe Chatrier catches the Serbian champion.
More lucid, more tactically complete, simply stronger. 'Rafa' had won the previous seven, he had won one hundred and four of the one hundred and six games played on the red brick in Paris. He had lost against Robin Soderling in 2011 and against Djokovic in 2015.
In short: history repeats itself. The Majorcan, who starts better and who in a moving way has a chance to advance two sets to one, wastes the chance and does not take advantage of even a break advantage during the fourth. Athletically and mentally he only gets the drops in the bottom of the tank.
Djokovic cancels the last energies of the very Spanish champion with a mega-partial of 5-0 and at the threshold of four hours of play he seals the success, perhaps one of the most important, with a very rocky 3-6 6-4 7-6 (5) 6-2.
Djokovic wins against Nadal for the thirtieth time, wins against Nadal for the thirtieth time and also reaches the twenty-ninth career Grand Slam final. The sixth in Paris, just like Bjorn Borg. Djokovic has once again proved, if needed, that he is the strongest of all.
Stefanos Tsitsipas will be waiting for him. The Serbian, who immediately has a handful of break points at his disposal, acts as a completely necessary presence in the first case and fails to enter the exchange in the second.
The number one of the big group closes the first round with some recriminations and does not find sufficiently valid weapons to move the score with the available joke. Nadal, who in the first round of response recovers two fifteen of disadvantage, perfectly reads the short ball on the second parity and pinches Djokovic on the line with a straight forward surgery.
The Spaniard, who despite the difficulties in the exchange manages to pull up two insidious lobs, catches the break with a new touch solution near the net and then strengthens the advantage with an immaculate serving time.
Djokovic - driven by haste - finds himself at 0-5, moves the score for the first time, condenses the vast majority of attention in the seventh game and recovers at least one of the two disadvantaged breaks. Nadal, who for the first time contributes to the case with a double fault, does not take advantage of a 0-30 situation at 5-2, but restores the advantage on 5-3.
Nadal reduces his cruising speed. And above all he struggles to limit the number of unforced errors in prolonged exchanges. Djokovic, more solid and decidedly more lucid in his tactical choices, starts with a mega-partial 7-0 and tries the first lunge in the set.
At the best moment, when he has the chance to stretch for the first time in the match, the Serbian piles up three unforced errors (two with the backhand and one with the forehand) and fails to open the diagonal with the forehand.
Over? Not at all. The Serbian, who always manages to maintain an aggressive position in response, restores the advantage at the third useful opportunity, clears two break points at 4-2 and manages to break away in the score.
Nadal, on 3-5, manages at the same time to face 15-30 thanks to an extraordinary defense (embellished with a surgical backhand pass) and at 30-40 thanks to a double fault. The Spaniard, who loses control of the backhand under management, fails to become dangerous even on the second break point.
Obviously not even to get back on track Nadal's attempt is simple: to shorten the number of prolonged exchanges and not give Djokovic points of reference. The Serbian champion, who in the initial stages of the third set wins a very important percentage of points with the first ball, manages to resist on the right diagonal and above all to trap the thirteen-time champion of the tournament in the net.
Out of breath and above all ideas. Rafa applies to perfection the straight serve pattern at 30-40 during the third game, cancels a second break point (again thanks to the support of the forehand from the center) he clings to the first serve on the third tie and then reads the Djokovic's short ball.
Predictable as in the vast majority of cases. Nadal - a completely necessary presence in the response rounds - misses a rather simple flight solution at 15-15 during the fifth game and loses control of the backhand in the immediately following fifteen.
Nadal calls for an appeal to the short ball in the first case, saves himself with an ace in the second, but finds himself trapped in another grueling exchange at 40-40. Nadal, a character absolutely reluctant to defeat, pinches Djokovic at 15-15 with an incredible backhand response and kisses the tape in the immediately following fifteen.
He collects probably the best point of the match, but returns to the break point with a splendid backhand solution and at the third useful opportunity he fishes the line left unguarded by Djokovic on an acceleration that is not definitive.
Devastated, physically and emotionally, he still fails to move the zero from the scoring box in the next game. Even if at 3-4 he clings to 30-40. Djokovic, who cancels a chance for the counterbreak with the straight-serve scheme, gets a game ball with a splendid backhand solution on the line and at the second useful opportunity in the game he closes.
The Serbian, who lacks clarity with a dispoisizone serve, squanders a 30-0 lead when he has the chance to put his head on 2-1 and finds himself on 5-5. Nadal lacks a bit of naivety at 30-15 with the second ball, a rather simple conclusion with the forehand at 30-30 is missing, but he closes with the smash (which plays a handful of meters behind the back line) at 30- 40.
Nadal also cancels the second break ball with the forehand and somehow faces the 6-5. Djokovic misses a rather coarse forehand out of the serve at 15-15, put it back. Called to cancel a set point, Djokovic draws the short ball from the cylinder and at least hits the finish line tie break.
Nadal shows up with a double fault, immediately recovers the disadvantage, but at the end of a daring exchange (at 3-4) he squanders everything with a high forehand touch and no longer finds a way to heal the gap. The break Nadal that is the background to the fourth set is completely necessary.
Without a real plan at his disposal, with a very low percentage of firsts and with little (very little) gas in the tank, the thirteen-time champion of the tournament is unable to stick to the score. Djokovic, a monster of continuity, breaks the balance with a mega-partial of 5-0. And he does not even leave Nadal the chance to return to respond to stay in the match at 3-5.