Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met for the first time on Court Philippe-Chatrier in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros 2006. It’s the young Serb’s first major quarter-final, and he did his best against the defending champions.
and left Nadal racing for his win before falling 6-4, 6-4 after an hour and 54 minutes. Rafa won 20 points more than Novak, working hard for each of them after a valiant effort from the Serb. Nadal got broken three times and converted half of the return points into five breaks that sent him two sets to love in front.
Novak lost serve in the first game of the encounter before firing his forehand to regain the break and put his name on the scoreboard. In the third game, the Spaniard broke again and cemented the 3-1 lead. Novak closed game seven with an ace to stay within a break deficit, adding a backhand error in the next game to put Rafa 5-3 ahead.
Djokovic secured the ninth game with a forehand winner before Nadal held at love to wrap up game one in 47 minutes and gain momentum. At the beginning of the second set, the Spaniard broke and took the second game 2-0 up. Novak struggled physically, hitting a double fault in the third game to fall 3-0 down and asked for a coach for his left thigh.
Rafa lost some ground after that break and was broken in game four before stealing Novak’s serve again after the Serb’s loose shot. In game six, Nadal added a forehand error to give Djokovic before holding the love in game eight with a forehand winner for a 5-3 lead.
Serving for the set at 5-4, the defending champion added a service winner to hold the 15th and two-set-to-love lead. In the opening game of the third set, Djokovic hit a loose backhand and decided to fold and push Nadal into the semis.
After the match, Djokovic explained that Nadal didn’t feel comfortable against him on court, he had a hard time reading his shots and he didn’t look that unbeatable.
Tyson pays tribute to Djokovic
During a recent podcast interview reported by Tennis365, after revealing how tennis changed his daughter’s life, Mike Tyson spoke about the current men’s round and revealed that Novak Djokovic is his favorite player.
“Novak Djokovic is my favorite player. When he’s doing well, I really enjoy watching him play. He’s my favorite because the way he came back from injury and beat guys like Nadal and Federer is impressive. He’s a real fighter.”