Novak Djokovic concedes Rafael Nadal ‘deserved’ to win Roland Garros epic
Novak Djokovic conceded that Rafael Nadal was ‘the better player’ as he saw his French Open title defence ended in the quarter-finals.
Nadal and Djokovic played out a four-hour epic on Court Philippe-Chatrier which the Spaniard eventually won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 to set up a semi-final clash with Alexander Zverev.
Djokovic certainly had his chances, though, and he looked likely to take the match to a fifth set when he led 5-2 in the fourth.
However, he was unable to close the set out, opening the door for Nadal to change gears and take the spoils as well as a spot in the last four at Roland Garros.
“Congratulations to Nadal,” Djokovic said after the match. “He was a better player I think in important moments.
“[He] started very well. I didn’t start so great, 2-6, 0-3, double break down. I was gaining momentum as I was coming back in the second set, managed to win the second set, and I thought, I’m back in the game.
“But then he had another two, three fantastic games at the beginning of the third.
“He was just able to take his tennis to another level in those, particularly moments at the beginning of all sets except the fourth. He showed why he’s a great champion.
“Staying there mentally tough and finishing the match the way he did. Congrats to him and his team. No doubt he deserved it.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 31, 2022
For Novak Djokovic, the overwhelming emotion seemed to be one of frustration, and he certainly appeared to be rueing his missed opportunities.
“I had my chances,” he said. “I had my chances in the fourth [set]
“Served for the set, couple set points. Just one or two shots could have taken me into a fifth. Then it’s really anybody’s match.
“I gave my best. I know I could have played better. I’m proud of fighting and staying until the last shot.
“As I said, I lost to a better player today. Had my chances. Didn’t use them. That’s it. Over four hours’ battle and I have to accept this defeat.”
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