Novak Djokovic gets green light to challenge Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros
The world’s leading player and the defending Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic will likely compete in Paris this spring. The French Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed the country would suspend their Covid vaccine pass rules from March 14.
Unvaccinated individuals can enter France from Thursday, and those are good news for Novak, who gets the green light to compete in Monte Carlo and Paris. Djokovic has played only one tournament in 2022 so far, skipping the Australian Open following a ten-day saga over his visa and deportation.
The Serb kicked off the season in Dubai a couple of weeks ago, beating Lorenzo Musetti and Karen Khachanov before falling to Jiri Vesely in two tight sets in the quarters. Novak survived three challenging encounters at the last year’s Roland Garros to secure the first Parisian crown since 2016 and become the first player in the Open era with two crowns at all four Majors!
Djokovic came from two sets to love down against Lorenzo Musetti, losing the opening two sets in tie breaks before storming over the youngster, who retired in the decider.
In the semis, Novak scored his second victory over Rafa on Court Philippe-Chatrier, avenging the 2020 loss and dethroning the 13-time champion to advance into the title clash. The Serb scored the 30th victory over the Spaniard, prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 after grueling four hours and 11 minutes.
Djokovic was eager to make an extra push after five straight losses to Nadal on the slowest surface, scoring eight breaks and standing as the more determined player with 50 winners and 37 unforced errors. Moreover, he pushed Nadal’s backhand to the limits and subdued the rival’s forehand to forge a massive advantage in the mid-range exchanges and bring the victory home.
The Spaniard generated a 5-0 lead in the opener and claimed it 6-3 despite some problems in the second part. Novak found his strokes in the meanwhile and won the second set to get back into contention. From 5-3 down in the third set, Nadal climbed back to 5-5 and created a set point in the 12th game that could have been crucial had he converted it.
Novak saved it and gathered momentum ahead of the tie break to win it 7-4 and gain a massive boost. Struggling with a foot injury, Rafa had nothing left in the tank in the fourth set, losing it 6-2 and propelling Novak into the final.
Chasing the second Roland Garros crown, Djokovic came from two sets to love down versus Stefanos Tsitsipas to lift the 19th Major trophy and move closer to Federer and Nadal.