Rafael Nadal sets Novak Djokovic clash at Roland Garros 2022

Problem-solving abilities of Rafael Nadal are ‘incredible,’ says top analyst

Grand Slam legend Mats Wilander has labelled the problem-solving skills of Rafael Nadal as “incredible” after he battled to a five-set win over Felix Auger-Aliassime, despite Nadal being “number two for most of the match.”

The 13-time Roland Garros champion was taken to a fifth set for just the third time in his career at the Paris Slam as he triumphed 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

The victory means that a highly-anticipated 59th career showdown between Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic is set to take place in the quarter-finals after the Serb downed Diego Schwartzman earlier in the day on Sunday.

Nadal was under huge pressure from the young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime especially when heading into the deciding set as all the momentum was firmly with the 21-year-old.

However the Spanish veteran mixed things up in the fifth – shortening points on occasion and holding his nerve when it mattered most to make sure he came away with the victory.

Reflecting on the match, seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander argued that Rafael Nadal was second best for most of the match, but as a result of his understanding of the game and “incredible” problem-solving abilities he was able to edge the epic encounter.

Speaking to Eurosport, the Swede said, “He was number two today for most of the match.

“He learns his lessons so quickly. It takes three or four games, then he understands it is not working and he has to change.

“As the older he has got, the more willing he has been to change his game and do a little bit more with the ball, some slices and drop shots and serve and volley a bit.

“Both him and Novak are becoming smarter on the court, as maybe Father Time is catching up.

“They never stop learning. It is incredible the problem-solving abilities of Rafael Nadal.

“His hands. They are unbelievable. Those chipped backhands that he hit. The last point. His hands in defence, his hands in offence.

“We don’t talk about it much, but it is coming out more and more the older he is getting.

“He always had unbelievable hands, we knew that, but now he is using them more and more.”

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