The quarter-final match, which ended after one in the morning local time in Paris, lasted more than four hours and became one of the most anticipated of the tournament.
In more head-to-head meetings than two other men in the sport’s professional era, Nadal has beaten Djokovic 29 times and Djokovic has won 30 times.
And for a long brilliant career, Nadal played 113 matches at Roland Garros and won 110 of them. Djokovic is to blame for two of those three defeats in Paris.
But could this year’s French Open be Nadal’s last? It looks like the 13-time Roland Garros champion, who is suffering from a nagging foot injury, isn’t sure.
On Sunday, after a five-set victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime in the round of 16, Nadal said: “Two and a half weeks ago, even if I had (positive hopes) after Rome, I didn’t even know if I would be able to be here. So I’m just enjoying being here for another year. And to be honest, every match I play here, I don’t know if it will be my last match at Roland Garros. in my tennis career.”
After defeating Djokovic in four sets, he told reporters that it was “one of those unforgettable nights” and he “did his best” to “run this tournament in the best conditions possible”.
“The crowd has been amazing from the start of the tournament,” Nadal said. “I dont know. I think they probably know that I won’t be here (many) times.”
Nadal was asked if there was an additional emotional burden on him, knowing that any match could be his last.
“I don’t know what might happen. I think, as I said, I will play in this tournament because we are doing everything to be ready for this tournament, but I don’t know what will happen after here,” he said.
“I have what I have in my foot, so if we can’t find an improvement or a small solution, it will be very difficult for me.”
Nadal said he was just enjoying every day at Roland Garros “not really thinking about what might happen in the future” and “will continue to fight to find a solution.”
After the match, Djokovic congratulated Nadal, saying that he “showed why he is a great champion. You know, he stayed mentally strong and finished the match the way he did.”
Peace No. 1 said “I tried my best”, but “I know I could have played better”.
“I am proud to have fought and stayed to the last blow. Like I said, you know, I lost to the best player today… more than four hours of battle and I have to accept this defeat.”