CHENNAI: Tennis aficionados witnessed one of the finest duels in the history of the game when world No 1 Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the semifinal of the French Open on Friday. Djokovic believed that his win over Nadal was one of the top three matches he had played and he would remember it forever. The Serb won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
Tennis legend Ramanathan Krishnan, who is the only player from India to reach the semifinal of Wimbledon twice, knows pretty well what high-octane tennis means and doffs his hat to Djokovic. Although Krishnan did not win a Grand Slam, he had registered wins against the likes of Rod Laver, the Australian legend who remains the only tennis player to win the Slam twice.
"It was an absolutely brilliant game of tennis. The quality and drama were nail-biting and perhaps one of the most engrossing matches between two champions in a long time. Hats off to Djokovic for his creditable win," said Krishnan.
Djokovic lost the first five games of the match and eventually lost the first set 3-6. But he rallied to win the next three sets, including a tie-breaker in the third, to end Nadal's reign at Rolland Garros. Nadal had won the last four French Open titles on the trot and was looking to win a record-extending 14th title win in Paris.
"Losing the first set in a semifinal against a player of the class of Nadal and bouncing back to win the match is an extraordinary feat. Djokovic showed a lot of grit, determination, and composure (tie-breaker) in getting the better of his most fancied rival. What I liked most was his fighting spirit," the former India Davis Cup captain observed.
Djokovic will meet Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final. The Greek is the first player from his country to reach a Grand Slam final at French Open.
Hailing from a small place near Athens, Tsitsipas held his nerves at crucial junctures to win a five-setter against Alexander Zverev.
Krishnan believes the final will be an altogether different proposition for the young Greek. He is confident that it will be Djokovic who will bag his 19th Grand Slam title.
"The form that Djokovic displayed in the semis against Nadal showed that he is in the zone. I am sure he will beat Tsitsipas and bag the French Open crown. Moreover during this Covid time, although the surface is different at Wimbledon, the players who played the French Open will be mentally and psychologically fit when they play in England. Mental fitness is very important in these challenging times and more the tournaments one gets to play, it helps him get into the groove," Krishnan said while looking ahead too.