Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to reach the final of the French Open.

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Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to reach the final of the French Open.

On a night of great athletic drama, Novak Djokovic delivered one of his best performances to dethrone Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

The great Spaniard had won 105 of his previous 107 matches on the Parisian clay, losing only to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the 2009 French Open and Novak Djokovic in the last eight six years ago.

Djokovic had won all 13 of his previous semi-finals, but in the 58th meeting between the two, Djokovic found the solutions to the biggest challenge in sport to triumph 3-6 6-3 7-6 (4) 6-2 in a contest that for three sets may have topped any that had come before.

“Definitely the best match I’ve ever been a part of in Roland Garros for me, and top three matches I’ve ever played in my entire career, considering the quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he’s had so much success and has been the dominant force in the last 15-plus years, and the atmosphere, which was completely electric,” said the world number one.

“It’s just one of those nights and matches that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Djokovic must now rest and heal before facing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday, vying for a 19th grand slam championship and the first man in the Open era to win each championship at least twice. Tsitsipas defeated Alexander Zverev in a five-set battle earlier on Friday.

Nadal has been attempting to break Djokovic’s all-time men’s record of 21 slam championships and entered as a clear, albeit small, favorite, especially after his thrashing in the final last October.

The first five games were nearly identical to that encounter, with Nadal responding to everything Djokovic could throw at him and racing into a 5-0 lead, but the contest then veered off in a totally different route.

Djokovic took three games back to create doubt in Nadal’s mind, and he was the superior player after that, but such is the clay-court master’s might. (This is a brief piece.)

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