Novak Djokovic made his 58th appointment on Wednesday with Rafael Nadal as he reached the 40th semi-final of the Grand Slam played at the French Open, where 5,000 fans had to hold on to fill the COVID-19 venue cover. World number one Djokovic beat Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 7-5, 7-5 to finish 11th in Paris in the final four. Previously, Nadal, a 13-time champion, beat Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 to make it to the finals 14 times. As Djokovic’s game extended beyond the 23:00 national coverage of the night, they were interrupted for about 20 minutes in the fourth set to make it 3-2, with 5,000 fans out of Philippe Chatrier.
In the end, Djokovic won the third game in the 12th game of the fourth set, but the Serb was disappointed to have lost the first two after being thrown to an advertising board.
“It was about releasing all the emotions stored inside,” Djokovic said, scoring 44 winners and saving the three rest points he faced.
“After leaving all the fans and taking a short break it wasn’t easy to find the pace.
“It was really a very difficult match for me.”
He added: “It’s been a great fight against a player who serves well and is strong. Maybe I could finish the tie, but I’m happy because I won.”
Friday’s semi-final will be the eighth between Djokovic and Nadal at Roland Garros, where the Spaniard has a 7-1 advantage.
That includes last year’s final, but Djokovic remains the only one of the two men to have defeated Nadal in the tournament.
Both players have history in mind in Paris.
Djokovic, an 18-time overall winner and 2016 French Open champion, wants to become the first man in more than half a century to win four slams in two.
Nadal, meanwhile, could win a record-breaking 21st victory with Victory in Sunday’s final, leaving Roger Federer ahead in the all-time race.
For the first time, fans were allowed to attend the afternoon session of this year’s tournament to ease the restrictions on Covid-19.
People in the 5,000 troopers saw Djokovic promise to take on Berrettini, who reached the quarterfinals when he left the Federer tournament.
However, the game was stopped before 11pm for the spectators to leave.
Some fans did the following: “We’ll stay, we’ll stay” before he denied it and Philippe Chatrier was taken out of court.
“We paid 500 euros for two and a half games in a game. It’s unacceptable,” said one man watching the quarterfinals with his wife and two children.
“They should start at 7pm and not 8pm.”
Wednesday was the 10th and final session of the tournament.
However, it was the first to welcome the audience after the Covid-19 restrictions were eased and the local premiere at 9pm was postponed to 11pm.
Djokovic and Berrettini left the court when the pitch was cleared, about 20 minutes after the match started again.
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