Felix Auger-Aliassime might have wished Rafael Nadal the best for the rest of the French Open, but believes it will require a monumental effort from the Spaniard to win this year’s crown at Roland Garros. Nadal came into the French Open with little experience on clay, having only played five matches on the surface this year, but he cruised through his first three sets in Paris. Auger-Aliassime, on the other hand, gave him a hectic match in the fourth round on Sunday, taking him to five sets before winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and 21 minutes.
And things don’t get any easier for Nadal when he faces defending champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who defeated him in the semi-finals last year. If he makes it into the quarter-finals, he will face either Carlos Alcaraz or Alexander Zverev, two of the best in the game today. “I wish Rafa the very best, I admire him greatly in everything that he’s done. He’s somebody who I really like, and so I wish him the very best for the next match,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“But then I think that he also knows that it’s going to be difficult. We played for a long time and it’s still the quarter-finals and afterwards there’s still two more matches to win to win the tournament. Rafa is coming here to win the tournament. So as I said, I really wish him the very best, but it will be a monumental effort for him, I think, to win. But as he and Novak have always done, they will give it their all right through to the end and it will be a great battle.”
“[It takes] a lot of effort, a lot of concentration. At one point even though he raised the level of his game, there were a few dips, physically, mentally, and I kind of lost the order of the game. I lost my intentions at one point,” the Canadian continued. “But despite everything, I managed to come back when necessary, to serve well again. At the end of the day, I showed some positive things, and I managed to last the whole run and it’s positive for what comes next.”
Rafael Nadal won a thrilling Roland Garros match on Sunday, surviving a significant scare from Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a confrontation with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard weathered an onslaught from the Canadian to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and improve to 109-3 in the clay-court major in front of a raucous crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier. For the 11th time in his career, Nadal lost the first set in a match at Roland Garros. The 13-time champion, however, maintained his cool and displayed his winning mindset to progress after four hours and 23 minutes on a court where he has enjoyed so much success.
At Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic continues to win in straight sets. On Sunday afternoon, the top seed defeated Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round of the clay-court Grand Slam in Paris. In a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 triumph, the World No. 1 saved seven break points while converting six of his own to set up a quarter-final meeting with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in the French capital. Djokovic is currently 16-0 in fourth-round matches at the clay-court Grand Slam, and he is on his way to a 13th consecutive quarter-final appearance in Paris.