French Open 2015 Novak Djokovic Defeats Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic (1) defeated Rafael Nadal (6) at Roland Garros in the 2015 quarter-finals on his seventh attempt at the tournament. The Tennis review looks back at a much anticipated match that delivered a spectacle, but not in the way tennis fans had hoped.
Novak Djokovic’s 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros was not a great surprise, but the manner of the defeat was a little shocking. Rafael Nadal had lost only once on Phillipe Chartier , was on a 39 match winning streak in Paris and. having beaten Djokovic six times at the tournament, had a mental hold over his rival. The Spaniard was expected to push the Serbian to the very brink yet ended up winning only nine games.
Djokovic’s intent- to impose his game on Nadal and score a first ever victory over him at Roland Garros- was well-executed as he raced into a 4-0 lead. He could not keep up such dominance though against The French Open’s most dominant player- and was pegged back to 4-4. A real struggle for control emerged, and at times it looked as if Nadal might sneak the first set- until 30-15, 5-6, Nadal serving.
An exhausting rally, the kind these two have been serving up since their first meeting in 2006, looked to go the way of the Spaniard as an inviting overhead, the entire court at the Spaniard’s disposal, came his way. Only Nadal did the unthinkable- he missed. On the court where he had executed such shots with ease over and over, he was now making amateur errors.
That miss marked the end of Nadal’s competitive participation in the match- he would win only four more games.
The Nadal who was broken at the start of the third set was not the Nadal we had seen lift Roland Garros nine times, the one we saw 12 months ago breaking Djokovic’s spirit. The 2015 Nadal was now finding out for himself just how that felt and at the hands of the Serb himself.
The Nadal we saw today was the one we had seen suffering defeats to Berdych in Melbourne, to Fognini in Rio and Barcelona, to Wawrinka in Rome, to Murray in Madrid and to Djokovic in Monte Carlo. A Nadal whose forehand now spilled more errors in matches that it had once done in entire tournaments, whose serve could not deliver and was liability against the world’s best returner, a Nadal who hit balls short and invited his opponents to punish him for it. A Nadal who is a few steps slower and still unable to shake off the rust, eight months into his most difficult comeback to the ATP tour from injury.
That Nadal should be slower and lacking his former power is no surprise, that it came so soon, at the age of 28, though, is shocking. The sight of Nadal winning one game in the third set will remain the kind of spectacle no one wanted to see – we wanted to see him go down, if he was going to, in the guise of the nine times Roland Garros champion- but like most shocking spectacles, we could not look away.
And why should we when on the other side of the net was a quite different spectacle, too? One we could watch with a healthy appetite, the sight of Djokovic, an athlete at his peak. The Serbian is on a tear in 2015- the first man to win The Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, and Rome, in one season. The Serb has suffered only two defeats in 2015 (Karlovic, Doha, Federer, Dubai) and is arguably in even better form than he was in 2011 when he entered the French Open undefeated, a run that included two defeats of Nadal on Clay, only to lose to Federer in the last four.
A third defeat in 2015 is sure to come for the world No.1, but one suspects, if his defeat of Nadal is anything to go by, not in his next couple of matches.
Commentary by Christian Deverille.
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