Rafael Nadal in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open, Melbourne
Rafael Nadal in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open, Melbourne | (Photo by Chaz Niell/Getty Images)

Tennis | Roland Garros 2021 | Iconic rivalry and clash of new generation await in Roland Garros semi-finals

  • Novak Djokovic [1] v Rafael Nadal [3]
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] v Alexander Zverev [6]
PARIS, FRANCE – A 58th meeting between two of the greatest players of all time and a battle between two future grand slam champions awaits in the Roland Garros semi-finals.


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Novak Djokovic [1] v Rafael Nadal [3] | Djokovic leads 29-28

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal overcame stern tests in their quarter-final matches and will now meet for the 58th time at Roland Garros with history awaiting both players.


H2H & Match Fundamentals

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Novak Djokovic [1] v Rafael Nadal [3]

H2H: Djokovic leads 29-28

Roland Garros

Paris, France

Clay (O)

Prize Money: €375,000

2nd on Philippe-Chatrier (Not before 16:30 BST time)

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It’s the rivalry that just doesn’t stop giving with Djokovic and Nadal set to meet each other for a 58th time in one of the best rivalries of all time.

Both survived thorough tests to get here with Nadal having to go through has annual four set battle with Diego Schwartzman. While Djokovic had to overcome the crowd, curfew and an inspired Matteo Berrettini to win in four sets.

For Djokovic this match on Friday is about avenging his humiliating defeat in the final of Roland Garros in October and ensuring he joins the long list of names to have won each grand slam at least twice.

As for Nadal more history awaits as a 14th Roland Garros title awaits but more importantly a 21st grand slam title which would take him above Roger Federer and place him as the player with the most grand slams of any player in history.

The Serb enters Friday’s semi-final encounter with a high amount of self-belief and confidence that he can become the only player to beat Nadal twice at Roland Garros.

“We are going to face each other another time. We had some battles over the years in this court. Last year he just dominated the finals against me. The quality and the level of tennis that I’ve been playing in the last three, four weeks on clay – Rome, Belgrade and here – is giving me good sensations and feelings ahead of that match. I’m confident. I believe I can win, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. It’s not like any other match. Let’s face it, it’s the biggest challenge that you can have playing on clay against Nadal on this court in which he has had so much success in his career. In the final stages of a Grand Slam, it doesn’t get bigger than that.”

As for Nadal, he describes playing Djokovic as a big challenge as he looks to edge one step closer to history.

“It’s a match that you know what you have to do if you really want to have chances to success and to keep going on the tournament. Always a big challenge. That’s something that is good because in some way we are practicing, we are living the sport for these moments. So that’s a good thing. The negative thing, it’s difficult because you play against one of the best players of the history. That’s how it is.”

In their recent clash in the Rome final, Nadal managed to get the upper-hand in the big points in the three set victory. The world number one’s base level of play has been better that Nadal’s which will give the Serb confidence heading into the match on Friday. Something that will not give him confidence is his lapses in concentration that lead to his downfall against Lorenzo Musetti and Berrettini.

As for Nadal, although he showed signs of fragility in sets two and three against Schwartzman and produced a scrappy performance against Jannik Sinner. The last set in his quarter-final was arguably the best set of tennis he has played this tournament and is now seemingly playing himself into form and confidence.

These matches are always very tough to predict but the upper-hand goes to Nadal, with this match expecting to have a lot of ups and downs. The 13-time champion will like conditions and most importantly is winning the big points in the big occasions.

Prediction: Nadal in four sets.


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Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] v Alexander Zverev [6] | Tsitsipas leads 5-2

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev will battle for a place in their first Roland Garros final as two future Grand Slam champions clash.


H2H & Match Fundamentals

Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] v Alexander Zverev [6]

H2H: Tsitsipas leads 5-2

Roland Garros

Paris, France

Clay (O)

Prize Money: €375,000

1st on Philippe-Chatrier (13:50 BST time)

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When the bottom half of the draw was revealed at the start of the tournament, it was always inevitable that opportunity would knock for one of tennis’ brightest talents. As expected Tsitsipas and Zverev have both taken the opportunity and will now meet for a place in their first Roland Garros final.

For Tsitsipas it has been a fairly comfortable passage through to the final with the only set lost coming against John Isner. The Greek now stands on the brink of his first Grand Slam final and backing up his incredible clay court swing.

“Well, I’m playing good. That will show by itself. I don’t think there’s a player out there that thinks they can’t win the tournament. I’m pretty sure they all know they can play well. If someone could grant them the tournament, I don’t think that’s a thought. Of course I’m playing good, and I think if I keep repeating the process, keep repeating the everyday hustle that I put, for sure there’s going to be a reward, and why not. I feel privileged that I’m in that position, and I feel obviously I’ve put in a lot of daily hard work and has been a key element of me being here. But you know, my ego tells me I want more.”

As for Zverev, he had to do things the hard way in his opening match coming from two sets down to win. But since that match, the German has looked impressive and now looks to reach his second grand slam final.

“Obviously the Grand Slams are the tournaments that we want to win the most. Before, maybe the last few years, I was putting too much pressure on myself. Also obviously in the media I was seen, before Medvedev and Tsitsipas arrived, I was seen as this guy that was going to all of a sudden take over the tennis world. I was putting pressure on myself as well. I was not very patient with myself, which I feel like now maybe I learned how to deal with the situation a little bit better, I’m maybe a little bit calmer at the tournaments. But the end goal hasn’t changed.”

This match sees Tsitsipas as the favourite with the German having seen his serve broken on a number of occasions during his matches to get here. The Greek is full of confidence and unless Zverev can have a good serving day, there should only be one winner but in tennis you never know and being the underdog could give the former US Open finalist some freedom.

Prediction: Tsitsipas in straight sets.


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