The quarter-final match of the present Roland Garros provided tennis fans with a brilliant spectacle for the memorable performance of both Novak Djokovic and Rafael.
The meeting was described as an anticipated final due to the great expectation caused by these two great players. Let’s not forget, however, that my nephew is now facing another very difficult exam against a very focused Alexander Zverev. The German player, without a doubt, will put up strong opposition and will try to validate his not insignificant chances of standing in the final. If Rafael wants to see himself with options to lift his fourteenth Roland Garros, he will have to win the pass with a match similar to Tuesday’s.
That night duel forced Rafael to try to compensate for his slight disadvantage due to the conditions that have already been amply commented on. It is true that when Rafael plays at Roland Garros, I almost always have the feeling that the game depends more on him than on his rival and that the confidence I still have in him has never abandoned me, but it is also true that I was afraid that managed to maintain the aggressiveness that, in fact, we saw from the first rallies.
He knew that he would need to work a little more on the points, lengthening them two or three more strokes in each exchange and giving them great precision, knowing that they would lose a little power. And that is precisely what he managed to do and maintain at all times. He printed great intensity, playing very long, looking for the winning shot parallel to the drive on many occasions and being willing to enter the court so that his shots were more forceful.
I think he displayed an extraordinary first set. He won it 6-2 and managed to extend the trend until 3-0 in the second set, with a double break. It was at this moment when, between him lowering his level a little and the Serbian increasing his aggressiveness, we entered a more even second stage. In the third, Rafael dominated again and took him away and in the fourth, when it seemed that the current number one was going to stop him again (because he was ahead 2-5 on the scoreboard), we were able to enjoy the most exciting moment of the match, with my nephew willing to play with maximum aggressiveness, with the unusual confidence that he brings out in the most difficult moment and, of course, with such surprising and beautiful shots that they continue to make the public vibrate as when he made his first foray into the French Grand Slam.
The game had all the ingredients of a great game, except that it wasn’t the final. Two of the greatest in tennis history faced each other in a great display of powerful shots, skill plays, climbs to the net, dropshots, changes of pace, emotion until the end and the incredible environment of the Philippe Chatrier. Tuesday night was one of those feats that encourage and reaffirm the enthusiasm of fans of our sport.
That is why in recent weeks I have been surprised by the speed with which certain specialized journalists have finished and clearly replaced Rafael. Perhaps it has been somewhat inconsiderate that the winner of the current Australian Open, the finalist of the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells (who played with a cracked rib), who has been for 17 uninterrupted years one of the benchmarks of Spanish sport and tennis world, some have removed it so soon from the pools.
As long as Rafael is willing to jump onto a tennis court, it would be a miscalculation, in my opinion, not to take it into account. If my nephew has shown anything in these wonderful 17 years, it is that he can always be counted on.
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