PARIS | Tuesday will be disputed the most awaited meeting of this fortnight, the one hoped for by many from the unveiling of the table. The final before the final, the 59th and perhaps final confrontation between the Serbian Novak Djokovic and the Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
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Ultimate, because Nadal, 13 times crowned at Roland-Garros, does not know how long his injured foot will last. Two weeks ago, the man with 21 Grand Slam trophies didn't even know if he could play.
For a while, the Spaniard has been looking at every game as if it could be his last. Including here, in his sandbox.
That's what he said on Sunday, shortly after Quebecer Félix Auger-Aliassime pushed him to his limits, forcing him to win his third meeting in five sets in Paris, in 108 occasions.
"That's where I am today," 'Rafa' admitted. I went through difficult times, with my foot. I don't know what can happen with my career in the near future. That's why I try to make the most of it and why I fight. »
This quarter-final will take place in the evening, French time, on the Philippe-Chatrier (around 2:45 p.m., Quebec time).
Much to the dismay of whoever has won the most in history.
"I don't like playing on clay at night," Nadal said earlier this week. There is humidity, which is higher. The ball is slower and the conditions can be very heavy when it's cold. »
"Djoko", the only player to have beaten "the ogre of ocher" twice at Roland Garros, prefers evening conditions.
"What I can say about this is that 'Rafa' and I will make different requests," the world number 1 smirked a few days ago on the France 2 channel.
The network debate
The Serb therefore won the first fight of this match, that of the schedule. And Amazon Prime, which since last year pays $ 20 million per year in particular to broadcast the evening clashes exclusively in France, too.
Because in Paris, the debate was raging. Should this large poster be presented by the private broadcaster, to which supporters must subscribe, or by the public channel France Télévisions?
New tournament director, former French player Amélie Mauresmo decided on Monday. It will be on Prime, but it will be free.
The magnitude of the debate in France shows the importance of this meeting, which everyone would have preferred on Sunday, in the final.
But the draw decided otherwise. Like last year, when Djokovic beat Nadal in the semi-finals, before winning his second title in Paris. It was before Tuesday the last confrontation between the two legends.
“It will be a really big challenge for me, believes the Spaniard. He has won his last nine games. He is full of confidence. I know what it is on my side [with my injury]. I accept my situation and I will fight, that's all. »
Serbian | 1st seed | 35 years
Spain | 5th seed | 35 years
59th meeting between the two players (a record)
Djokovic leads with 30 wins against 28 losses
At Roland Garros:
Source : ATP