Nadal overcame Djokovic in French Open thriller

Rafael Nadal insists he cannot know for sure whether a match at Roland Garros could be his last match at the venue he loves.

For now, if he keeps winning and performs as he did in his monumental quarter-final victory over long-time rival Novak Djokovic, Nadal will have more opportunities to play.

Combining superb shot-making and his trademark resilience, Nadal beat top-seeded defending French Open champion Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4) to move a step closer to 14th at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament. championship and what would be a 22nd major trophy overall, adding to the records he already owns.

“There's only one way to win against Novak – to play your best from start to finish,” Nadal said. “Tonight is one of those magic nights for me.”

Fortunate is anyone who can be there, even someone watching from afar.

The match started at 9pm on Tuesday and ended after more than four hours at 1am on Wednesday.

Nari came with a hint of a game, a point, a stroke or, indeed, a move unexpected. Both gave their all. Nothing came easy.

Brackett said it was a quarter-final, yes, but it felt like a final, from the quality of play to the quality of effort, from the expectations that preceded it to the atmosphere that surrounded it.

The only missing element: no trophy handed to the winner.

Nadal's 3-0 lead in the second set did him no favors, as Djokovic took it.

Djokovic's 3-0 lead in the fourth didn't do him any good, though, as he served for it at 5-3, even forcing a point twice in the fifth. Nadal saved those set points and broke there, then ran away in the tiebreaker that ended, grabbing a 6-1 edge and never losing focus after his first three match points went awry.

“Playing against him all the time is an amazing challenge,” Nadal said. “All our history together, today was another one.

The showdown was the 59th of their careers, more than any other two men have played against each other in the Open era. Nadal narrows Djokovic's series lead to 30-29 and improves to 8-2 against his opponent at Roland Garros.

Nadal is now 110-3 for his career. Two of those losses came against Djokovic, including in last year's semifinals.

This year, Nadal confirmed that Djokovic is behind him in the Slam count with 20.

Nadal turns 36 on Friday, when he faces third seed Alexander Zverev in the semifinals.

When Nadal's future was brought up during his on-court interview, he laughed.

“See you in two days,” said Nadal. “That's the only thing I can say.”

Reporting by the Associated Press.

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