By Chad Hoyle
The most anticipated draw of the tournament did not disappoint- unless your name is Novak Djokovic.
The Serbian was bested in a brutal match against Rafael Nadal, who will advance to the finals in search of his 8th French Open title.
It was a veritable game of cat-and-mouse the whole match, with both men exchanging victories in subsequent sets. Djokovic went down in the first set 6-4 but rallied back in the second 3-6 and evening the match. Nadal responded in the third with a 6-1 beat down that saw a high percentage of unforced errors by Djokovic.
The drama increased exponentially in the fourth set- Nadal playing for a win, and Djokovic playing from behind to stay alive. Realizing that the possibility of winning his last remaining Grand Slam event was in jeopardy, Djokovic battled back to force a tiebreak and won the set 7-6 (7-3). With the match then tied at 2 sets each, both men went into the fifth determined to emerge victorious. Djokovic continued his momentum from the fourth set into the fifth, going up on Nadal 3 games to 1. Unfaltered, Nadal rallied back to tie the set at 4 all. Games were traded back and forth, pushing the men into another tie at 7-7
If momentum is a pendulum, it swung in favor of Nadal at the end of the fifth. Proving himself as the "King of Clay", the Spaniard silenced Djokovic in two straight games to earn the victory. "I really fought a lot" said Nadal, who now holds a record of 58-1 at Roland Garros.
It will be the Battle of Espana on Sunday when Nadal faces fellow countryman David Ferrer, who annihilated Jo Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets this afternoon.
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