Spaniard Rafael Nadal celebrates his 5-set win over Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last 16 of the Roland-Garros tournament on May 29, 2022 (AFP / Thomas SAMSON)
Thirteen-time Roland-Garros champion Rafael Nadal will find world number 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, after he beat Canada’s Félix Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 6-3, 6- on Sunday. 2, 3 -6, 6-3, after four and a half hours of trading on an incandescent center court.
The Serbian champion and winner of Nadal in the semi-finals last year is chasing Majorcan to break the record for Grand Slam titles fought by two monsters (20 vs 21).
“We know each other well. When I don’t play much in Rome, he’s chasing a championship,” +Rafa+ said. “But we’re at Roland-Garros! I don’t know what will happen, but I’ll give everything I have.”
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman at the Roland-Garros tournament on 29 May 2022 (AFP / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT)
+Nole +, ultra raid against Diego Schwartzman (6-1, 6-3, 6-3) saves more than the Spaniard, who spent more than double the time (4h21) on the field in his spectacular duel against Félix Auger -Aliassime , 9th player in the world.
Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the round of 16 against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Roland-Garros tournament on May 29, 2022 (AFP / Thomas SAMSON)
It took the peculiar determination of all Spaniards to overcome the Spaniards who came under the patronage of his uncle Toni Nadal. Like his tough defense to force a time-out (2-1) in the third set with the help of a very long +FAA+ shot. It’s one of the many highlights of the anthology in this generational clash between the 21-year-old Montreal rising star and the aging king of mustard, who will celebrate his 36th birthday on Friday.
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the round of 16 against Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the Roland-Garros tournament on May 29, 2022 (AFP / Thomas SAMSON)
“I didn’t start the game well” +Rafa+ gave. “I couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities I created in the first set. I played better in the third set, but the start of the fourth set was tough. He has a big serve (average speed of 4km/h on the first serve, editor’s note) and I couldn’t push him away. But at the end of the match I managed to be more aggressive, reach the net and that made the difference.”
One stat explains the rarity of the event this Sunday: in 112 Porte d’Auteuil matches, the Spaniard finished only third in five sets.
Two days before he faces +Djoko+, who continued to win against Mallorca in the Paris garden in the semi-finals last year, what kind of a mark will this match leave?
Nadal displays a worn body despite his coronation in Australia, where Djokovic is missing. A stress fracture in his ribs likely deprived him of his final victory at Indian Wells in March. Suffering from chronic pain in his left foot due to osteonecrosis of the scaphoid bone (Muller-Weiss syndrome), he walked out the door in the round of 16 in Rome, the last tournament before Roland-Garros.
The two giants had not faced each other this early in one of the four major tournaments since 2015. The tournament was at Roland-Garros and the Serbian had won in three sets. The only other example was the Porte d’Auteuil anyway: it was in 2006, during their first encounter. It turned in Nadal’s favour.