Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Nadal v Djokovic as it happened

French Open Semi-final result:

R NADAL (Spa) bt N DJOKOVIC (Ser)

7-5 6-4 6-2

*denotes server

GAME-BY-GAME UPDATES:

By Piers Newbery

Third set

Nadal 6-2 Djokovic
Nadal makes no mistake, serving out the match to 15 and progressing to his third final at Roland Garros. An awesome display from the champion.

Nadal 5-2 Djokovic
Djokovic comes through another exhausting game from 0-30 and tucks into a banana to celebrate.

Nadal 5-1 Djokovic
The crowd gets a spark of life when Djokovic wins the opening point with a sharp reflex volley. Even Rafa’s uncle Toni applauds, as he often does his nephew’s opponents. Seems a good sort. And his good mood is no surprise as Nadal powers through another game. He finishes the game with an unnecessarily violent smash, like a knockout blow.

Nadal 4-1 Djokovic
Djokovic gets on the board but it’s hard work.

Nadal 4-0 Djokovic
In the best sporting sense, Nadal has a nasty look about him at the moment – like Mike Tyson in his pomp. He’s tearing Djokovic to pieces.

“To be brutally honest this third set from Djokovic is someone feeling sorry for himself. If he’s going to compete with Nadal and Federer you can’t accept your fate after two sets.”
BBC Sport analyst John Lloyd

Nadal 3-0 Djokovic
Smiley Serb Jelena Jankovic is in the crowd, although she’s not looking too cheerful at the moment as her compatriot is getting a beating. Nadal gets to break point and finds a vicious angle on the cross-court backhand winner.

Nadal 2-0 Djokovic
A swift hold for the Spaniard and Djokovic must hold in his next service game. Much as I like the plucky Serb I’ll be glad not to have to type his name for a while, it’s giving me all sorts of bother. As you may have noticed.

Nadal 1-0 Djokovic
And that could be that. A tired-looking Djokovic plays three poor drop shots and Nadal takes advantage to break serve. Nadal doesn’t lose from here.

Second set

Nadal 6-4 Djokovic
More drama. Nadal skips to 40-0 and three break points only for Djokovic to battle back with four points of his own. Facing break point, Nadal comes up with only his second ace of the day. It’s enough to make you weep. The Mallorcan converts his fourth set point when Djokovic puts a forehand long.

Nadal 5-4 Djokovic
Djokovic keeps on attacking and stays alive in the set but he looks pretty exhausted as he slumps into his chair at the changeover.

Nadal 5-3 Djokovic
Nastase’s back! Unfortunately he’s no longer sitting next to Don Johnson, meaning I can’t use my ‘Crockett and Tubby’ joke. No matter, Nadal presses on with a solid hold and he looks utterly indestructable at the moment.

Nadal 4-3 Djokovic
The margins are tiny in this match but Nadal does just have the edge in the key moments. Brutal is one word for him and relentless is the other. He gets to break point and sprints for a short ball, curling a forehand around Djokoivic at the net. The Serbian sits at the changeover crossing himself to the amusement of the crowd – funny but not great psychology.

Nadal 3-3 Djokovic
Another straightforward hold for Nadal, with one drop shot catching out his opponent and prompting a burst of loud Serbian.

Nadal 2-3 Djokovic
Djokovic has to applaud a screaming backhand cross-court winner from Nadal in the second point, and the Serb comes up with a blistering forehand of his own as he holds to 30

Nadal 2-2 Djokovic
Nadal hits his first ace of the day in a love game.

Nadal 1-2 Djokovic
We’ve had a few candidates but Nadal makes a good case for shot of the championship, finding an incredible angle with a sliced backhand from well behind the baseline that sneaks past Djokovic at the net. Djokovic saves one break point in yet another see-saw game.

Nadal 1-1 Djokovic
Djokovic wins more friends when, at 0-40 up with three break points, he sees a stunning Nadal backhand whistle past him and clip the line, and calls out the umpire to show him just what a good shot it was by checking the mark. Smiles all around, except from Rafa, who gets on with saving two more break points and taking the game.

Nadal 0-1 Djokovic
A boost for Djokoivc as he kicks off the start of what will need to be a very long road if he is to win with a love-service game. The tennis has been so good we’ve barely had a shot of the crowd, so I’ve no idea if Don Johnson and Ilie Nastase are still in the building. Probably hit the town by now.

First set

“Exceptional and exhausting – clay-court tennis at its absolute best, and I don’t think Nadal is even winded.”
BBC Sport analyst John Lloyd

Nadal 7-5 Djokovic
Nadal wins the best set of the tournament, coming to the net to play a deft drop volley at 30-15 and converting his third set point with a forehand winner.

Nadal 6-5 Djokovic
The standard remains incredibly high and Nadal breaks again after a series of crunching exchanges, prompting a fist pump and a knee jerk form the Spaniard. And it’s only the first set.

Nadal 5-5 Djokovic
Now we’re cooking. This really feels like a Grand Slam for the first time all week. Djokovic wins an amazing second point and gives it some fist pump before Nadal battles back. But the Serbian levels things when Nadal nets a forehand on break point. Gripping stuff.

Nadal 5-4 Djokovic
A really fine effort from Djokovic sees the Serb recover from 15-40 and two set points down. Nadal queries one call but a swift look at the mark satisfies him – they have complete faith in the marks these clay-courters.

Nadal 5-3 Djokovic
You give him the big build-up and he goes and double-faults on break point. Is this the beginning of the end for Nadal. Has the pressure got to the Spaniard? Probably not.

“I think Djokovic is playing as well as he has all tournament and he’s getting thumped. I think Nadal thought Djokovic would be a threat and he is pumped today.”
BBC Sport analyst John Lloyd

Nadal 5-2 Djokovic
Brutal is a word that gets used a lot where Nadal is concerned and I think I’ve just used it again. He is clubbing forehand after forehand at Djokovic and the Serbian is broken to love – and he’s not playing badly. Fearsome stuff.

Nadal 4-2 Djokovic
Nadal edges a tight game to 30, with one searing off-forehand winner a particular highlight. Djokovic clearly has a large and vociferous support team in the crowd who are helpfully all wearing yellow – his lucky colour.

Nadal 3-2 Djokovic
It’s another high-quality game and this time it is Nadal who is bossing the rallies. The Spaniard gets to break point, manoeuvres an opening and cracks a forehand winner. Harsh on Djokovic who has made10 winners, but also 10 unforced errors.

Nadal 2-2 Djokovic
Djokovic is just fantastic at moving opponents around and then thumping a winner into the space he has created. He gets to 0-30 ahead but relentless Rafa pegs him back – we could be in for a very long and very good match.

“I’m exhausted just watching and they’ve only played three games.”
BBC Sport analyst John Lloyd

Nadal 1-2 Djokovic
Some great stuff as both men use the whole court to stretch each other to the limit. Djokovic wins a couple of lengthy exchanges that get the crowd going and he’s really winding up his forehand.

Nadal 1-1 Djokovic
It’s surprisingly gruelling stuff, back-to-back men’s matches, but I can’t complain as it seems like my hilarious colleague Ben Dirs has been doing cricket clockwatches since November. That’s a lot of Essex-based humour. Nadal – Spain’s very own Ryan Sidebottom – levels the score but a couple of Djokovic winners will have given him something to think about.

Nadal 0-1 Djokovic
It could be an interesting battle to see who takes longest to serve – Djokovic bounces the ball about 37 times, while Nadal can dawdle for Spain. The Serb kicks off proceedings and an early trademark drop shot leaves Nadal looking unusually flat-footed. Djokovic does well to come through a couple of deuces for a vital hold with some fizzing forehands.

1535 BST: It seems a bit harsh to interview the players on their way out to a Grand Slam semi-final so it’s no surprise we don’t learn much. Djokovic is “very excited” and Nadal hopes it will be “a good match”.

1525 BST: We’re halfway to the dream final after Roger Federer beat Nikolay Davydenko in what felt a strangely epic first semi-final, bearing in mind it was only three sets. Rafael Nadal is a strong favourite to join him in the final but Novak Djokovic should be a serious test – the 20-year-old Serb doesn’t seem to fear anyone.

Story from BBC SPORT:

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