Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic Quarter-Final Roland Garros 2015
King of Clay is Dead? It’s not easy break the dominance of Rafa on clay court. It has been a chase like no other for Novak Djokovic. For nearly a decade, he has had to deal with Rafael Nadal’s red dust at Roland Garros; had to absorb lopsided defeats and agonizingly close losses; had to push his limits far from Paris in order to have a chance to solve the Rafael Nadal conundrum.
But on a cool, sunlit afternoon in the historic stadium where Rafa became a global star and the ultimate clay-court master, Djokovic finally reeled him in.
Djokovic’s 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 victory Wednesday over Rafa, the nine-time French Open champion, was both a tennis lesson and a geometry lesson. That it came in the quarterfinals instead of a more decisive round should not diminish the achievement.
“It’s a special thing, a special match,” Djokovic said. “You prepare for the match in the best possible way to get out there and execute your plan. Obviously, it’s easier said than done. When you are on the court with him, and on the court he has lost only once in his entire career, it’s not always easy to execute the plan you prepared before the match. But I managed to do that. Had a very strong start. Except, the second part of the first set and first part of the second, the entire match went really well for me. It’s definitely a big win, a match that I will remember for a long time.”
“You go through ups and downs in the match. It’s normal, especially against Rafa. I have had four perfect games at the start, and, you know, 30‑All he made a passing shot, really amazing passing shot; 4‑Love played a couple of good games and I made some unforced errors. That’s. He was back in the match.
5‑4 I had many set points; 6‑5 again. I thought I deserved to win the first set. After I won it I felt a huge relief, and it was easier to play one set up than a set down, of course.”
But, you know, when you’re playing against Rafa you always expect one ball back more than any other player can give you back on the clay court. That’s why it’s not easy sometimes to keep on playing on that level and keep on making winners all the time.
Sometimes you make mistakes, but it’s important to get out of those crisis times as soon as possible.
At some point in the match, it seemed, Djokocic wasn’t happy with the condition of the court. Something about playing Nadal on Chatrier seemed to dredge up bad old memories for Djokovic. Rather than keep his first-set success, he sat down and began to complain that the court wasn’t being watered between sets. “It’s the same thing every year,” Djokovic griped to chair umpire Cedric Mourier. On the next changeover, he continued his harangue, asking Mourier if someone was going to have to slip and injure himself on the dry clay before it was wetted down. Again, the answer was no.
Was this the best way to react to a winning first set?
Was he going to let the moment get to him one more time? ;
“Well, my plan was to focus on things that I can influence, that I can do well, and that is my game plan, my mindset, my approach,” Djokovic said after the 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 victory.
Rafa didn’t have much comfort and opportunities where he can dictate the play. That was more or less about it. Djokovic played to mix up the pace, get into the net. Dropshots, high balls, fast balls, always something different.
Obviously Rafa didn’t serve that well, especially in the second and third set. He made some unforced errors that are not characteristic for him maybe from the forehand side. But that’s, what happens when you don’t feel comfortable on the court.
“There were many dropshots that he played before, at Monte‑Carlo, for instance. You know, when you’re on the court, the match has started, and when you’re dictating the court you can play dropshots. That’s why he’s played so many dropshots. He was in a position to play these shots,” said Rafa
Djokovic played fast to Rafa’s forehand and, you know, moved Rafa around the court,…
“He was a bit uncomfortable in his footing,” said Djokovic, That’s where I want him.”
Djokovic has finally made himself too good for Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, and it doesn’t get any better than that.