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5.05 am IST: (Yes, that late!) Another epic chapter added to the rivalry. Thanks for staying with us, whoever did. More in the daytime.

Rafael Nadal edged a late-night classic against old rival Novak Djokovic in the early hours of Wednesday in four sets to reach his 15th French Open semi-final.

The 13-time Roland Garros champion won the pair’s 59th career meeting 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) after a four-hour-and-12-minute quarter-final on a raucous Court Philippe Chatrier.

Nadal sealed his eighth victory in 10 French Open matches against last year’s winner Djokovic at 1:16 am local time (2316 GMT Tuesday) to set up a last-four clash with third seed Alexander Zverev on Friday.

The 35-year-old has lost just three of his 113 matches on the Paris clay since his 2005 title-winning debut and now only trails Djokovic 30-29 in their career head-to-head.

The Spaniard, seeded fifth, remains on course for a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title after lifting this year’s Australian Open, which Djokovic missed.

— via AFP

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 Nadal: Tiebreak 4-7. GAME SET AND MATCH, RAFAEL NADAL!

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: Tiebreak 4-6. The King of Returns! Djokovic saves another match point, what on earth!

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: Tiebreak 3-6. A good second serve 1-2 from Novak. Still match points. Good first serve out wide, Nadal sends forehand long. Now match points on Nadal’s serve.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: Tiebreak 1-6. Novak Dropovic, not today! Match points galore.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: Tiebreak 1-5. Second serve, no problem says Rafa. In the zone. Will take something miraculous for Djoker from here. But he is still capable of course.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: Tiebreak 1-4. This is phenomenal defence from Nadal. Two mini breaks!

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: Tiebreak 0-3. Rafa is simply not missing at the moment! Open court for a forehand winner, nails it.

Aditya: We’re heading into a tie-break to decide the fourth set! Both Nadal and Djokovic’s TB records in 2022 stand at 9-2. But it’s Rafa who definitely has the momentum at the moment.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: Tiebreak 0-2. Mini break for Rafa and he consolidates. A run of 6 straight points!

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 Nadal: INDEED. 6-6 in the 4th set. Of course, only a tiebreak was missing for drama!

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-5 Nadal: The crowd explodes after a Rafa winner and then soon chants of ‘Nole Nole’. Nadal now up 30-0 in this game.

Three minutes short of four hours.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-5 Nadal: Novak holds to 15. That’s a minor levelling up there from the world No 1 and timely. Rafa has to once again serve to stay in the set.

Some fun responses to this tweet if you are on Twitter (and looking for something to keep you up!)

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 5-5 Nadal: Rather easy (given circumstances) hold for Rafa. 5-5 in the 4th! Time for Djokovic to up his serve game?

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 5-4 Nadal: WE ARE BACK ON SERVE. Another break point for Rafa. And he converts this time with a forehand inside out!

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-3 Nadal: A drop shot, that has actually not worked for him, down break point! And it sets up a winner. Mentality monster. Deuce.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-3 Nadal: Mishit shot from Djokovic, sets up an easy winner for Nadal at the net. Break point!

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-3 Nadal: Set point No 2, but stunning backhand pass from Nadal to save it. Wow.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-3 Nadal: After threatening to for a couple of points, Nadal does see a deuce on Djokovic’s serve. Backhand error from the world No 1.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-3 Nadal: Did someone say big points? Djokovic heard you. Huge serve, set point.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-3 Nadal: Interesting. Djokovic doesn’t even attempt coming forward for a drop shot from Rafa. Soon enough, 15-30. “Rafa, Rafa, Rafa”

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-3 Nadal: A high quality service game from Rafa. Chants ring around the stadium again. New balls... Djokovic is now stretching before serving for the set, Nadal has a spring in his step.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *5-2 Nadal: Oh that is another shot that Nadal will want back. Twice in two games now he has had chances to force deuce but has missed shots he would normally make. A forehand error this time.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *4-2 Nadal: This has not been a great game from Djokovic but he is still 40-15. Well, make that 40-30. Nadal must sense something here. There is an opening.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *4-2 Nadal: Some energy from Nadal, a service hold at love. Massive chants of Rafa... still only one break of serve mind you. And Djokovic walks away from the service line as the chants don’t stop.

This was a lovely point in the previous game and Nadal should have really done more with it.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *4-1 Nadal: Oh, what a chance! Not for the first time today, Nadal misses a backhand DTL with the point there for the taking. Could have been deuce but Djokovic holds.

Need to see something happy Rafa fans?

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *3-1 Nadal: Rafa gets on board in the fourth set. A gold at 15. But Djokovic still in control of this one.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *3-0 Nadal: Well, a deciding set seems imminent now. Won’t be a surprise to see Nadal conserve some fuel here.

Aditya: Djokovic breaks before consolidating quickly to take a 3-0 lead in the fourth set! The momentum has shifted again. They continue to play equally well and equally badly (by their ridiculous standards).

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, *2-0 Nadal: Oh now, Nadal is angry. On break point, he thinks he has caught the line with a slice. But the umpire walks over and rules it against him. Hawkeye (unofficially) shows the right call was made. And Djokovic has a break! Here we go.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 Nadal: Oh, anger from Novak. He seems to have had it enough with the net chord. Bangs his racket on the net after a tough break and crowd boos. Soon enough, Idemo chants heard again. Not a partisan crowd today by any means.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 Nadal: Ah well, there’s something we have not said today. 1-0 Djokovic. A couple of drops attempted in that game, one didn’t work but one finally did.

Set 3 stats: In quick time too. Just the mere 41 minutes for that one. Feels like a walk in the park compared to the 2nd set marathon. What’s Djokovic’s response going to be?

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-6 Nadal: SET 3, NADAL! Past #MidnightinParis, Nadal has a couple of set points for Set 3. Djokovic saves one... but sends a forehand very wide. A 39-minute set and Nadal takes a 2-1 lead!

Aditya: Just like the second set, Nadal is double break up in the 3rd too. Can Djokovic turn things around again? Difference is, he has no rhythm at the moment. It seemed he’d run away with the contest after drawing level in the match. But count Rafa out at your own peril.

Aditya: Two hours and 56 minutes into the contest and we have our first Djoko-smash from Nadal.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 2-5* Nadal: This set has been a series of short games for the most part. A love-hold for Djokovic. Nadal will serve for the set.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 1-5* Nadal: Djokovic looks a bit flat at the moment. The comeback like second set doesn’t quite seem imminent but what the heck do we know at this point! Nadal holds at 15.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 1-4* Nadal: WOW, NADAL BREAKS. I mean, by this point, we know to expect a twist when these two are involved but a double break for Nadal in the third is not something we saw coming at the end of the 2nd.

Aditya: Djokovic keeps persisting with drop shots despite limited success and allows Nadal to hold for a 3-1 lead in the third set.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 1-3* Nadal: And that’s the Nadal brilliance at net we are more used to. Stunning reflex. Advantage. And then Djokovic misses a drop shot. Again. Huge hold for Rafa.

Shahid: A conditioning drink passed on to a ball kid by Djokovic’s team was intercepted by an official and not given to Djokovic. It’s been confiscated for whatever reason. Very odd thing to happen in a tennis match, let alone one between such high profile players.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 1-2* Nadal: Yikes, double fault from Nadal and it is deuce again. Second of the set for Nadal. And then he misses a backhand volley that he would normally make for fun. Break point ND.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 1-2* Nadal: Seemed like Nadal was getting away with a lucky service game but it is 40-40.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 1-2* Nadal: DJOKOSMASH ALERT! That shot is not his friend often. Nadal on the backfoot constantly, lobs one up and it is a bad miss at 15-15.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 1-2* Nadal: Another quick game, this time an easy hold for Djokovic at 15.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 0-2* Nadal: Nadal races to 40-0, winning the first 7 points of the set. Brief speed bump at 40-30, but closes it out.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 0-1* Nadal: Wait, what? Djokovic has been broken to love at the sort of the third set. What do we even know about momentum eh?

A quick break for Nadal and we are back for set 3. Djokovic to serve first.

Second set stats: Nearly 85 minutes for 10 games in that 2nd set. An absolute epic and it is Djokovic who comes back from 0-3 down to win 6 out of the next games. World No 1 seems poised to take over this match now.

Djokovic 2-6, 6-4 Nadal: From 0-3 down at one point in the set, Djokovic takes the 2nd set after 85 minutes! Nadal’s lengths have been getting shorter. The night is getting colder. Djokovic is getting hotter.

Djokovic 2-6, 5-4 Nadal: Djokovic is absolutely pounding the ball at the moment. Nadal on the backfoot. Another set point.

Djokovic 2-6, 5-4 Nadal: Both players throw the kitchen sink. Novak sends a backhand long. Set point saved.

Djokovic 2-6, 5-4 Nadal: Open court for the Nadal backhand DTL but he hits the net! SET POINT NOVAK.

Djokovic 2-6, 5-4 Nadal: Chants of Idemo, Idemo. From 30-0, two tired points from Nadal. Djokovic is about to pounce.

Djokovic 2-6, 5-4 Nadal: Rafa, I imagine, would give anything for an easy hold now.

Djokovic 2-6, 5-4 Nadal: An easy hold, HUZZAH! Djokovic is finally dictating points from his forehand, his backhand DTL is starting to land too, and the conditions are getting heavier. Will be a massive achievement for Nadal if he manages to hang in there and clinch this second set.

Djokovic 2-6, 4-4 Nadal: A massive hold for Rafa! Crowd roars. But he does appear a bit more under the pump now, the depth in his shots has gone missing a bit.

Djokovic 2-6, 4-3 Nadal: Wow, what did we say about the quality? Goodness, that’s an unreal point from both players to go up 40-30 in game 8 by Nadal. And then Djokovic with a stunning point to finish off with a backhand winner. Incredible stuff. Deuce again.

Vinayakk: Unlike that epic set in 2021 semi-final, this epic set feels more like a struggle for both players. Not the highest quality of tennis but it is a proper battle. And Djokovic’s freshness (in terms of court time) is starting to show.

Aditya: Three huge roars from Djokovic in that game. Nadal was up 3-0 in the second set but Novak leads 4-3 now. Both players aren’t really at their best but this match is now very much the titanic struggle it was expected to be.

Djokovic 2-6, 4-3 Nadal: FOUR GAMES IN A ROW FOR NOVAK! And as he gets to the chair, a fist pump turns into a massive roar. Nadal had his chances in that game. Not taken. Still on serve, but right now it feels like Djokovic is firmly ahead in the set.

Djokovic 2-6, 3-3 Nadal: Double fault from Djokovic, break point for Rafa, crowd goes wild... and of course the world No 1 comes up with a 1-2 punch. Then Nadal’s turn to play a well-constructed point. Deuce again.

Djokovic 2-6, 3-3 Nadal: Djokovic lets out a roar to go up 40-30 but Nadal forces a deuce. Here we go again?

Djokovic 2-6, 3-3 Nadal:

Aditya: We’re back on serve! Djokovic converts his fifth break point to make it 3-3 in the second set. In a psychological battle as intense as this, the outcome of this ridiculous 19-minute game is sure to have a bearing.

Djokovic 2-6, 3-3 Nadal: DJOKOVIC BREAKS BACK! Another break point Djokovic as Nadal misses an inside out FH. And then a backhand error follows. 54 minutes into the set we are 3-3! On serve. Just seems like this is now Djokovic territory.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: One break point saved, then Djokovic is angry. Another break point comes the world No 1’s way. Nadal completely misses the drop shot but follows up with a superb backhand. DEUCE AGAIN. 17 mins and counting!

The 5th game of the second set is now officially longer than a quarter in a hockey match.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: Deep return from Djokovic, break point. 15 mins for the game!

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: Fantastic ball-striking by both players and after a 18-shot rally, Nadal misses a forehand. Well well, 5th deuce.

Shahid says, “Seems the only shot clock working at Court Philippe Chatrier seems to be the one on Nadal’s wrist,” and not long after a time violation for Rafa.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: Stunning forehand crosscourt pass from Nadal! Wow. Advantage him, but he misses another first serve... and his first double fault follows. Oh boy. Deuce.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: There was that clutch ace in this game but Nadal’s first serve has disappeared since. Djokovic with another brutal return on second serve to set up a nice winner. Deuce, nearing 10 mins for the game.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: Second serve and Nadal is under immense pressure right from the first shot. Deuce and past 7 mins again for this game.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: STUNNING POINT! Rafa getting superb angles, Djokovic keeps returning but finally the topspin forces the error! RAFA RAFA chants getting loud, he is pumped. Game point for Rafa here.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: Wow, both break points saved, the second with a superb ace by Rafa.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: A superb backhand winner from Rafa but another great point by Novak and he has another couple of break points.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: Average rally length is 6.0 shots at the moment, we are told. Nadal facing 0-30 on his serve.

Djokovic 2-6, 2-3* Nadal: With one of his best points of the night, Djokovic holds serve. The momentum, it is shifting, you all. Nadal’s serve is now going to come under immense pressure.

Shahid: Djokovic asking the ball kids to give the ball quickly. That won’t work against Nadal. Too many tics have to be fulfilled before a point is played. Even the shot-clock can be stretched to respect the famous yank of the shorts.

Aditya: All he needed was a small opening to get his first break of the match. Nadal still up a break in the second set, though. Crucial passage of play coming up. Novak could change the complexion of the match quickly if he gets on a roll.

Djokovic 2-6, 1-3* Nadal: Djokovic seems to be asking the ball kids to get the balls to him sooner. Picking up the tempo... picking up some energy.

Djokovic 2-6, 1-3* Nadal: Novak breaks back! Nadal tries a drop shot under pressure (commentator says the first of the match, not sure but anyway) and it hits the net. Well, well, well.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-3* Nadal: Wow, that would have been really cruel on Djokovic. A loopy mishit forehand from Nadal turns wickedly away from him but he is convinced that is out and it is called out. Break back point for Djokovic. Something’s brewing here.

Aditya: And now Nadal is up a double break in the second set too. Extraordinary scenes. The number of times Djokovic has failed to take advantage of Nadal’s mishits landing half court is baffling.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-3* Nadal: WOW! Someone check Djokovic’s pocket because that game has been stolen away from him! How did Rafa win that. A stunning forehand sets up a winner at the net.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-2* Nadal: From 40-15 to deuce.... and a forehand error from Djokovic, means another break point for Nadal. He’s 1/7 at the moment.

Shahid: “Djokovic will have to start thinking the chants of ‘Rafa’ is actually ‘Nole,’ very soon”

Djokovic 2-6, 0-2* Nadal: Murmurs of 2020 already. Djokovic is looking flat-footed in rallies. Nadal is making some stunning shots. A service hold to love.

STAT via ATP: The winner of the opening set has gone on to win 50 of the previous 58 matches between Djokovic and Nadal, including 15 of their last 16. Of course, Djokovic won their last meeting from a set down. But at the moment, it feels lie Nadal is just doing too many things right and Djokovic isn’t.

Aditya: Djokovic saves his sixth break point in the first game of the second set and lets out his first roar of the match. But Nadal wins the next two points to get the break. What a sensational game that was! Rafa is locked in, Novak struggling for answers.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-1* Nadal: What a game! 13 minutes! And Nadal breaks serve. There were signs of Djokovic’s best in that game but still being bothered by errors.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-0 Nadal: A huge roar from Novak! Not been many of those tonight. Six break points saved. “Is the giant waking up,” asks the commentator.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-0 Nadal: Five break points, five saved! 11 mins and counting for this game.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-0 Nadal: In case you hadn’t heard, Djokovic plays break points well! And he is here... in that zone. Brilliant point from the world No 1 to force a third deuce.

Djokovic 2-6, 0-0 Nadal: Wow, Djokovic faces a break point in the opening game of the set set. Saves one. But faces another after another deep forehand by Rafa. Then Novak’s turn to find depth in his forehands, saves another. Deuce.

Djokovic 2-6 Nadal: The King of Clay starts with a brilliant first set, taking it 6-2 with a couple of service breaks. Novak Djokovic had flashes of brilliance but more errors & fewer winners.

Aditya Chaturvedi: Nadal takes the first set 6-2 in 49 minutes. He’s been aggressive and has nailed his forehands, especially the all important DTH ones. But the question is - can he sustain this level? Djokovic hasn’t found his best yet but you know all he needs is a small opening.

Djokovic 2-6 Nadal: FIRST SET RAFA! Djokovic misses the backhand crosscourt by some distance. Set point Rafa. A serve out wide and Djokovic finds the net.

Djokovic 2-5* Nadal: Rafa serving for the first set. Bit of pressure at 15-30... gorgeous drop volley winner. 30-30. Two points from the opening set.

Reminder in 2021: Nadal made him pay, sprinting away for a 5-0 lead before the top seed got on the board. Djokovic clung on, retrieving one break to get to 2-5 but Nadal eventually prevailed after one hour on court even if he required seven set points to edge ahead. Rather similar script here too.

Djokovic 2-5* Nadal: A bit of a wild game from Nadal and Djokovic holds serve at 15. Do not count him out yet, we have seen this movie before in 2021.

One of the best points of the match so far, even if it hasn’t happened quite enough for Djoker:

Djokovic 1-5* Nadal: And a hold to love from Nadal. What a way to consolidate the 2nd break.

Djokovic 1-4* Nadal: More evidence that the forehand is firing nice and early. Two breaks!

Djokovic 1-3* Nadal: Well, well. Missed forehand by Novak. Break point for Rafa. Mind you though, his BP conversion is Roger-esque sometimes these days.

Djokovic 1-3* Nadal: Novak under pressure at 15-30 but comes up with a stunning rally that finishes with a backhand winner. 30-30. Clock reads 33 minutes and we are mid-way into the 5th game.

Djokovic 1-3* Nadal: RAFA HOLDS! Huge hold at that. Djokovic’s level is still a bit up and down. Nadal going steady.

Shahid Judge: Google says the temperature in Paris is 18 degrees C. Talk has dominated whose requests organisers would have listened to - Nadal wanted a day match, Djokovic, night. But when two of the biggest names in tennis are meeting in a Grand Slam, it’s a moot point. It’s ALWAYS going to be the night match.

Djokovic 1-2* Nadal: Back to deuce. Djokovic not making this easy on Nadal. Waiting to pounce, but Nadal has another game point after a couple of terrific forehands. It was missing in the first set against FAA. Firing here. We go on...

Djokovic 1-2* Nadal: A stunning point from both players for 15-15. Nadal finding some great angles but Djokovic stays in the point with great defence. A stare to his box (presumably) at the end of it, he has warmed up folks. Nadal down 15-30... misses first serve. Djokovic pounces with a run-around forehand. Break points for the World No 1. A slice goes long... one saved by Rafa. Nadal pumped! Super point to second BP. Brilliant volley and then an overhead to finish. Deuce. Gets his lob right after bring Novak in with a slice and after six minutes, a game point for Rafa.

Djokovic 1-2* Nadal: A hold to love by Djokovic. He needed that.

Djokovic 0-2* Nadal: Just a little bit of bother for Nadal at 30-30 but Nadal pulls out a superb backhand winner and then reacts quickly to a Djoker drop. Threw in an ace in that game too.

Djokovic 0-1* Nadal: The clock reads 12 minutes as Nadal starts to serve his first game.

If the first game is anything to go by, we’re in for another epic. Stunning rallies already. Djokovic with some trademark defence but Nadal, being incredibly aggressive from the get-go, converts his third break point after 11 minutes of play.

Djokovic 0-1* Nadal: The world No 1 saves a 2nd break point with a deep backhand but misses his first serve on the third break point too and then makes an error as Nadal breaks serve to start off.

Djokovic 0-0 Nadal: Djokovic faces a break point in the very first service game after a superb half volley reflex action winner by Nadal. But Djoker, who is the master of big points, plays a superb drop shot and then a lob to follow up. Deuce.

Djokovic 0-0 Nadal: A deuce game to start things off.

Here. We. Go. Djokovic to serve.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a two-time Roland Garros winner, against No. 5 and 13-time champion Rafael Nadal meeting for the 17th straight season and an Open Era men’s-record 59th time overall.

While Djokovic leads their rivalry 30-28, Nadal owns a 19-8 advantage on clay and 10-7 in Grand Slam tournaments, including a 7-2 record at Roland Garros. This is their first meeting since June last year when Djokovic prevailed in four sets in the Roland Garros semi-finals. 

Just a taste of how big this match is:

Djokovic-Nadal, chapter 59 under the Paris night sky. Shahid Judge sets it up...

French Open: Rafa Nadal vs Novak Djokovic, chapter 59 – a blockbuster awaits under Paris’ night sky

Hello and welcome to live coverage of the French Open 2022 men’s singles quarterfinal between world No 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal.

Novak Djokovic renews his 16-year rivalry with Rafael Nadal at the French Open on Tuesday with a semi-final spot at stake and where victory for the world number one could end the 13-time champion’s Roland Garros career.

Nadal, who turns 36 on Friday, puts his record of 109 wins and just three losses in Paris since his title-winning debut in 2005 on the line against the defending champion.

The Spaniard was taken to five sets for only the third time at the tournament by 21-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round.

With AFP inputs for texts through the blog

Screenshots: Sony LIV