French Open 2022: It's Djokovic vs Nadal for the 59th time; fans await blockbuster quarter-final
Defending champion Novak Djokovic will take on 13-time winner Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals of the French Open 2022 on Tuesday.
Come Tuesday, and tennis enthusiasts will relive one of the sport's greatest rivalries in the Open era. World No. 1 and defending French Open champion Novak Djokovic will take on 'King of Clay' and 13-time winner at Paris Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster quarter-final clash at the Roland Garros.
The Spanish ace survived a tough challenge against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime to eventually register a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory in the last 16-round at the Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday. Earlier in the day, Djokovic showed glimpses of his brilliant best to demolish Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 6-3 and book his 13th straight French Open quarter-finals berth.
The highly-anticipated clash will be the 59th meeting between the long-standing rivals and the first since Djokovic upset Nadal in last year's French Open semi-final.
While 35-year-old Djokovic is chasing a record-equalling 21st major, Roland Garros' favourite King Nadal will hope to add to this year's Grand Slam tally.
The Spaniard clinched his 21st Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open 2022 - a title which the Serbian could not defend as he was deported from the country owing to his unvaccinated status against Covid-19.
Despite all the drama that followed, the Serbian has showcased stunning form en route to the Roland Garros quarter-finals and moved into the last eight without dropping a set. But the World No. 1 is well aware that there is a long way to go in his pursuit of a third Coupe des Mousquetaires.
Djokovic took until his 12th attempt to emerge victorious at Roland Garros, making every opportunity on the Parisian clay a special one for him.
"It took me years and years to win the title here. Of course, I had some big heartbreaks on the court here, many finals lost and semi-finals, thrilling marathon matches, mostly against Rafa prior to 2016. Of course, it was very special, very emotional to clinch that title in '16. It was a huge relief more than anything, really," Djokovic said.
"In the years to come, I was still continuing to play consistently well here. Then luckily got another title last year. Somehow winning a title here is always probably the hardest of any Slam for me. Last year the second week that I had here was just probably the toughest four matches, toughest seven days I had to win any Slam in my career," the defending champion at Roland Garros added.
The Serbian is also fighting to retain his No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. If Djokovic wins the title, he will stay in the top spot on June 6. On June 13, if Djokovic earns the crown and Daniil Medvedev does not make the final, the 35-year-old will extend his stay at World No. 1.
As for Nadal, the Spanish ace made his way to Paris with concerns looming over the chronic foot injury that resurfaced in Rome earlier this month. Nadal limped to a third-round loss to Denis Shapovalov at the Italian Open, just days after recovering from a rib injury during the Indian Wells. The 'King of Clay', who did not drop a set until his Sunday's clash against the 21-year-old Canadian, will do everything in his stride to clinch a record-extending 14th French Open crown.
Fans of Djokovic and Nadal took to Twitter to express their joy over the blockbuster quarter-final clash at the French Open 2022. Here's a look at some of the reactions: