Novak Djokovic delivers Rafael verdict after thrilling French Open victory vs Rafael Nadal | Tennis | Sport

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Novak Djokovic has admitted that it is a privilege to play against Rafael Nadal at the French Open after sensationally defeating the reigning champion in the semi-final at Roland Garros. 

It was a tie that was a repeat of last year’s final, in which Nadal romped to a straight-sets victory. 

But Djokovic romped to a wonderful success against the Spaniard on the Philippe-Chatrier court, winning 3-6 6-3, 7-6(7-4) 6-2. 

Nadal has dominated the French Open in recent years. 

The World No. 3’s victory over Djokovic last year earned him his 13th title at Roland Garros in 15 years.

Djokovic’s had a difficult start in his attempts to earn revenge, trailing 5-0 in the first set. It initially seemed that this would be a repeat of that final last year, when Nadal won 6-0 in the opening set. 

However, the Serb fought back strongly, eventually winning the next three sets. The final set was delayed as fans were initially told to depart due to the 11pm Paris curfew, but French authorities allowed attendees to remain in the stands. 

Djokovic hailed the decision to allow fans to stay, while insisting that his victory over Nadal was his greatest match at Roland Garros. 

“It’s been a privilege to be on this court with Rafa. It’s the biggest match I’ve ever played here in Paris,” Djokovic said in the immediate aftermath.

“It has been the best match I’ve played here, with the best atmosphere and I’m glad you (fans) were able to stay inside. It was great, we had the best support for both of us players as well.

“To win against Rafa on this court you have to play your best tennis, and tonight I played my best tennis.

“It’s hard to find the words to describe how surreal it is to play Rafa and to explain how hard is the pressure to play against him here.”

Djokovic’s semi-final win sets up a final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will be playing in his first-ever Grand Slam final. 

He is also the first Greek player to achieve the feat. 

Tsitsipas defeated Alexander Zverev.

The 22-year-old won the opening two sets before his German opponent battled back to level the sets at 2-2. 

Tsitsipas showed incredible mental strength to win the deciding set and book a place in the final. 

He was visibly emotional after the match, claiming that it was the biggest win of his fledgling career to date. 

He will play against Djokovic in Sunday’s final at 1:30pm. 

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