Rafael Nadal salutes the crowd after beating Novak Djokovic

‘A magic night’ – Rafael Nadal revels in hitting ‘unexpected level’ against Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal has described his victory over world number one Novak Djokovic in the French Open quarter-finals as “a magic night” as he reached the semi-finals in Paris for the 15th time.

Nadal and Djokovic played out a four-hour epic in their 59th career meeting which the Spaniard eventually won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) to set up a semi-final clash with Alexander Zverev.

The 13-time champion was two breaks up in all of the first three sets, but lost the second, and then rallied from 5-3 down in the fourth set to clinch victory at 1.15am in Paris.

The victory means that Nadal is still on course to win a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam as well as a 14th Roland Garros crown.

Speaking in his on-court interview, the 35-year-old said he was “very happy and emotional” as he praised the efforts of Djokovic too.

“Very happy,” Rafael Nadal said. “A very emotional moment for me; it’s incredible to play here…The support was incredible for me, everybody knows how important it is for me to play here; it’s the most important tournament of my career, and it will remain a special tournament for me.

“[It was] a very tough match….Novak is one of the best players in history without doubt; so always playing against him is an amazing challenge with all the history we have together.

“Today was another one, and to win against him there is only one way: to play your best from the first point to the last. Tonight has been one of these magic nights for me; an unexpected level but super happy.”

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