Djokovic gears for great battle

Novak Djokovic predicted a “great battle” when he continues tennis’ most prolific rivalry in today’s French Open semifinal against clay court king Rafa Nadal.

The pair have faced off 57 times with Djokovic leading 29-28. But Nadal has been his nemesis at Roland Garros, winning seven of their eight clashes there including last year’s final which turned into a demolition job.

Unusually they are meeting in a semi-final rather than a final, courtesy of Spaniard Nadal having dropped down to world number three and being placed in the same half of the draw as top seed Djokovic.

Should Djokovic manage to get the better of Nadal today, he will be favourite to take only his second French Open title, having won it in 2016 when Nadal abandoned the tournament because of a wrist injury.

Since then Nadal has been unbeatable, extending his record title haul to a jaw-dropping 13.

“Obviously it’s a well-anticipated semifinal,” Djokovic, who has 18 Grand Slam titles, two behind the men’s record shared by Nadal and Roger Federer, said after beating heavy-hitting Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5 in an intense duel on Wednesday. — Reuters.