Rafael Nadal follows in the footsteps of Novak Djokovic and they will meet on Tuesday at the Philippe Chatrier for a place in the Roland Garros semifinals.
The Balearic was forced to trace his match with Felix Auger-Aliassime to end up tipping the balance in his favor by 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6 and 6-3.
While Djokovic rested in his chambers, his next rival was left 4 hours and 21 minutes of maximum tension because Aliassime had him on the ropes.
It was clear to Felix that his decorated adversary lacked the mobility of the past and he hammered him with dropshots and angled shots that forced him to run from one side to the other.
Nadal missed the first three break balls in the third game. He answered his rival by making the first immediately after. He converted it and shot the score to 4-1.
A special match for the two players because of the bond they have with Toni Nadal. The uncle and mentor of the champion of 21 greats won 16 of them under the direction of the Majorcan coach. He is now a technical collaborator of the Canadian and calmly followed the duel in the front row of Philippe Chatrier’s box.
On the bench of Aliassime there was his usual coach, the Frenchman Frederic Fontang. The matches with Nadal at Roland Garros are very long and he had a lot of room for reaction. But too many ‘break’ balls escaped him: 0/6.
The alarms go off when the king of the land gives up his first set in the tournament. His body language was not the best and his shots failed to overwhelm the opponent.
It was obvious that the outcome of the second mark could mark Rafa’s future in a tournament he arrived at just in time due to the crack in his ribs in Indian Wells and the recurrence of his discomfort in his foot in Roma.
The two protagonists signed a truce until Nadal broke hostilities with a break that allowed him to sign the tables.
Aliassime began to notice since then the weight of the history of his rival in the monumental central Parisian. The third set began with the fourth ‘break’ of the champion of 21 majors.
I knew that any extra minute counted for recovery for the next engagement. The American was not going to give up so easily and was placed with a 3-1 and service. He maintained that comfortable income until 5-2 and would sign the tables.
Nadal is headed to the thirty-eighth match of his career to five sets. The balance was 24 won and 13 lost. Two of those triumphs had occurred within the four walls of the Bois de Boulogne.
In the stands there was a referendum to know who was the favorite of the fans. Rafa was lucky to start serving. The pressure was on Aliassime, who was serving better than ever until she crumpled at the decisive moment. This came in the eighth round of the tiebreaker set. Nadal’s seven lives will offer this Tuesday the 58th chapter of the greatest rivalry in history.
“It has been incredible to play here with an impressive atmosphere,” he said at the conclusion. There are already 109 victories in the French capital. “Felix is one of the best players in the world, he has power and mobility. I wish him the best.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.