It was once that Rafa Nadal, Toni's uncle, teamed up to ask the meteorological gods if they would let it rain. A downpour came to transform a complex match. It was a miracle in liquid form, which occurred, most notably, in some of his most memorable matches in the US Open. The formula was different in Paris this Sunday. Nadal needed something else. He needed the sun's rays in Paris to stop the momentum of Felix Auger -Aliassime. Toni is now training Nadal and to bring back the Canadian, who was one of only a few to take Nadal through to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros (3-6 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 and 3-6).
This was, without doubt, Nadal's most difficult match in a tournament. Because he lost against Robin Soderling, the Swedish Robin Soderling, for many minutes, this was the first defeat of Nadal since 2009.
Nadal was extremely affected by the low ball speed and cold conditions. In Paris, temperatures were not kind to his game. He suffered horrendous first sets with 50% of the serves, 1 out 7 break balls, and 15 unforced errors. It was absurd to ask if Nadal could defeat Novak Djokovic at the quarterfinals. He had already beaten Diego Schwartzman in three sets. The question was then whether he would be able get rid of the Canadian.
The first set was a clear indication of doubt. This doubt was quickly cleared up by the sun shining on the Philippe Chatrier. Uncle Toni lost his powers and time turned in favor of Nadal. He began to warm up and stop making unnecessary mistakes with his right hand. He only committed four errors in the second set, which was the one that served to launch him. Although there was some room for improvement in Aliassime's winners section, his elasticity makes it possible to achieve anything, Nadal's level was clearly at 'in crescendo.
The sky became cloudy again. The Canadian appeared in Paris at night and things stopped getting worse. He regained the control of his right hand and took it away from him. Nadal was forced to play a fifth set if the game was under control. He played Roland Garros for the third time. He was pushed that far by Novak Djokovic and John Isner in 2011, respectively. He has never been beaten in the final set. Auger-Aliassime was also the first person to inscribe his name into the history books.
After seven intense games in which Nadal saved furniture and evened the score, it was finally time to eat. Nadal made a desperate pass straight to the line, with Aliassime serving at 15-30. He scored the break balls 20-21 of the match with this blow. He took the first shot, water from Canada; the second, he lifted it off the ground to claim victory and to certify his passage to the quarterfinals.
Nadal is now more worried than ever with Djokovic's win in two days. This is especially because of his poor record in break balls. He converted just 6 of 21. He hasn't noticed any foot problems in four games. The bad news is Djokovic hasn't dropped a set in the tournament so far and is at his best.
This will be the duel number59 between Serbians and Spanish with 30-28 for Djokovic. They have met nine times at Roland Garros, with Nadal winning seven and Djokovic two. Their last meeting was in the semi-finals last season.