Novak Djokovic toils, will face Rafael Nadal in French semis

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·4 min read
French Open
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It took 3 1/2 hours, a cut on his hand and a delay to remove fans, but world No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals of the French Open on Wednesday to set up another date with Rafael Nadal.

The top-seeded Serbian defeated the ninth-seeded Italian 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in three hours, 28 minutes in a match that was interrupted when the 5,000 fans at Roland Garros refused to leave Court Philippe Chatrier in adherence of a curfew that was put in place. Djokovic and Berrettini were asked to leave the court in the middle of the fourth set while the fans were cleared.

Djokovic lost his footing and cut his hand after play resumed.

"This match had it all: falls, crowd, break. It was a lot of intensity," said Djokovic, who let out a roar when the match was completed. "I just felt under tension the entire time. It was just super, super stressful to constantly be under pressure on my service games, because his service games were quite smooth with the big serve.

Berrettini, 25, had 55 winners compared to 44 for Djokovic, but the Italian's 51 unforced errors were the difference. Djokovic committed only 19.

"I'm really proud of myself, really proud of my team, what we achieved," Berrettini said. "I'm really happy, but at the same time I don't want to stop here. I'm still young. This is my second quarterfinals in a Slam. I don't want to stop here."

In the first quarterfinal, third-seeded Nadal defeated 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in two hours, 45 minutes.

Nadal's 36-set winning streak came to an end, but the Spaniard made it to his 14th semifinal at Roland Garros.

"I started badly in the second set, then I was able to come back," Nadal said. "But at 4-4, returning with the wind, I played a bad game and hit a double fault in the next game. I needed to play more aggressively and I did so throughout the rest of the match. I won an important match today against a tough opponent. I was able to find a way to play my best tennis in the moments that I really needed to."

Nadal won 108 total points compared to 77 for Schwartzman. Nadal converted on 7 of 14 break points. Schwartzman was outdone by 39 unforced errors as Nadal committed 29.

Djokovic leads Nadal 29-28 overall, but Nadal is 10-6 vs. Djokovic in Grand Slam events, including a 7-1 mark at Roland Garros. The upcoming match will be their first semifinal meeting since Wimbledon 2018.

"Each time we face each other, there's this extra tension, expectations and just vibes are different walking on the court with him," Djokovic said after his match. "That's why our rivalry has been historic for this sport and I've been privileged to play him so many times.

"Rivalries with him and Roger (Federer) have made me a stronger player and allowed me to understand how I need to improve my game to get to the level where they were when I actually started playing professional tennis. I'll probably pick Raffa as the biggest rival that I've ever had in my career. The anticipation for the match against him, any match on any surface on any occasion is always different from any other."

Mercedes Cup

Seventh-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France lost to British qualifier James Duckworth 6-3, 6-2 in the Round of 32 at Stuttgart, Germany.

German Dominik Koepfer also fell, dropping a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision to wild-card entrant Jurij Rodionov of Austria. Germans Peter Gojowczyk and Yannick Hanfmann posted victories.

In other action, Spain's Feliciano Lopez defeated Alexei Popyrin of Great Britain in straight sets; American Sam Querrey topped Altug Celikbilek of Turkey in straight sets; Switzerland's Dominic Stephan Stricker defeated Moldova's Radu Albot; and Great Britain's Jordan Thompson took down Guido Pella of Argentina in straight sets.

--Field Level Media

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