Eurosport’s Tim Henman, Mats Wilander and Alex Corretja have given their immediate reactions to Rafael Nadal’s stunning victory over Novak Djokovic at the French Open.
The 13-time champion overcame the world No. 1 and reigning champion in four gruelling sets in the night match on Tuesday as fans were treated to an epic encounter between the two old rivals.
Nadal had to show all his fighting spirit and famous resistance to edge out his old foe in their titanic quarter-final 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6(3) with the match lasting four hours and 12 minutes and finishing at 1.15am local time.
It was a quite incredible contest and Henman, Wilander and Corretja reflected on what they had witnessed in the Eurosport studio, not quite believing that Nadal had done it yet again.
“Incredible scenes!” Henman exclaimed. “The quality of tennis from start to finish – over four hours, well into the night – it’s just incredible.
“They bring out the best in each other. When one of them is behind, the other is almost retaliating, coming up with even better tennis. It was Nadal who got off to the fast start, but Djokovic came back and he was up in the fourth… baseline exchanges, going from corner to corner, the speed in which they’re hitting the ball with such consistency… no unforced errors, even after four hours and 21 minutes. Match point, Nadal gets the opportunity to step in, and there it is.”
Corretja added: “I was not nervous at all! I was so enthusiastic; the passion these guys showed tonight again is just amazing.
“It’s difficult to describe with words, because from the very first ball, until the end, they were hitting it as hard as they could: not too many mistakes, only winners… forehands and backhands down the line… good serves, good volleys, good drop shots… what else could you ask for? Nothing, just live the moment!
“It was like a dream to be here to watch this match, and now I understand why Rafa has a statue here because it feels like he is a knight here.”
Wilander agreed: “Unbelievable effort! I was sitting next to Alize [Lim], and we were thinking 5-2, fourth set, should he [Nadal] let it go, maybe? He kind of let it go because he started hitting the ball harder again and we just felt like he found his rhythm again.
“Suddenly Novak started getting a little bit careless at times in that final set, and it was interesting how Novak knows exactly what he needs to do: to execute. Rafa needs to play within himself at times, but of course, to win, he has to let it out; I’m absolutely exhausted!”