Spaniard next plays Djokovic
Rafael Nadal won a Roland Garros thriller Sunday when he survived a major scare from Felix Auger-Aliassime to set a blockbuster quarter-final showdown with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Paris.
In a front of a packed crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier , the Spaniard overcame an onslaught from the Canadian to advance 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and improve to 109-3 at the clay-court major.
In a dramatic clash, Nadal lost the first set in a match at Roland Garros for just the 11th time. However, the 13-time champion kept his composure and demonstrated his trademark winning mentality to advance after four hours and 23 minutes on a court he has had so much success on.
“He is a great player without a doubt. One of the best players in the world,” Nadal said when asked about Auger-Aliassime in his on-court interview. “He is very young and with a lot of power and mobility. For me, he was a very, very tough opponent today. He does a lot of things well and has been improving and I wish him the very best for the rest of the season. It is a very important victory for me without a doubt.”
Prior to Sunday, Nadal had been taken to five sets in just two of his 111 matches at the event. He defeated John Isner 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4 in 2011 and overcame Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7 in 2013. With his victory, the 35-year-old has now reached the quarter-finals in 16 of his 18 appearances in Paris.
The World No. 5 triumphed at the Australian Open in January and is aiming to win a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam crown this fortnight in Paris. The fifth seed will next face Djokovic after the top seed defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
The Serbian defeated the Spaniard in the semi-finals last year before he downed Stefanos Tsitsipas to lift the trophy in Paris for the second time. Djokovic leads Nadal 30-28 in their ATP Head2Head series. Nadal has won seven of their nine matches at Roland Garros.
“We know each other well,” Nadal said when looking ahead to his match against Djokovic. “We have a lot of history together. He came here after winning in Rome. For me, it was not an ideal situation to arrive here. But here we are. We are at Roland Garros, it is my favourite place without a doubt. The only thing I can tell you, I am going to be focused and try my best. The only thing I can guarantee is that I am going to fight until the end.”