The "King of Clay" is back, and he's knocked off the sport's top-ranked player.
No. 5 Rafael Nadal beat No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) early on Wednesday morning in a wild battle that lasted more than four hours at Roland-Garros.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) May 31, 2022
Nadal will now play for a chance to reach the French Open final for a second time in three years. Nadal beat Djokovic to win the title in 2020, though he fell to Djokovic last year in the semifinals. Djokovic still holds a slight edge in their head-to-head rivalry despite the loss on Wednesday, however, and leads 30-29.
Nadal, who turns 36 on Friday, is now an incredible 110-3 in his career at Roland-Garros. A win at the event this year would mark the 22nd major win of his career, and the 14th at the French Open.
“To win against Novak [Djokovic], there is only one way — to play at your best from the first point to the last,” Nadal said, via The Associated Press. “Tonight has been one of those magic nights for me.”
Alcaraz's run ends with loss to Zverev
Carlos Alcaraz is the future of tennis, but he's not yet ready to ascend the throne. The No. 6 seed lost his quarterfinal match against No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev, who defeated Alcaraz 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7).
Alcaraz looked fine to start. He won the first game, but Zverev was on point, clearly having learned a lot from losing to Alcaraz at the Madrid Open. Zverev bullied Alcaraz through the first two sets, and though he never made it easy for Zverev, he opened the door again and again with uncharacteristic unforced errors. Alcaraz has steely nerves for a 19-year-old, but his age and relative lack of experience worked against him at times. With the door open, Zverev walked right though.
But Alcaraz thrives under pressure. As we've seen over and over at the French Open, he knows how to look defeat in the face and send a blazing return right back. He staved off elimination several times, clawing his way to a third-set and trying to find any edge against Zverev, who was clearly fresher after a relatively easy Round 4 match. He muscled his way through the fourth set, and even got within one game of forcing a fifth set, but allowed Zverev to tie it at 6-all with a remarkably poor game in which he didn't score a single point.
Then came the nail-biting tiebreaker. It was a thrilling watch, with astounding tennis was coming from both sides. Alcaraz kept himself in it by sheer will, but couldn't eliminate those errors from his game. He hit the ball into the net at the worst possible times, and in the end that's what did him in. Alcaraz's time at the French Open is over, but Wimbledon is right around the corner.
Gauff onto semis after defeating Stephens
The teenagers continue to rule at the French Open. Eighteen-year-old Coco Gauff, who graduated from high school as Roland Garros began, is onto her very first Grand Slam semifinal after defeating Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2.
Gauff looked sharp to start the match, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in under 15 minutes. At that rate, the match would have been finished in well under an hour, but Stephens woke up and began clawing her way back into the set. She won a game to hold at 4-2, then managed to hold again at 5-3. Then it was 5-4. Then 5-5. Flashes of Peak Sloane began to shine through. Even though she dropped the set, Stephens looked ready to take the fight right to Gauff.
Stephens tried, but Gauff was armed with all the knowledge she gained from their last match against each other, which she lost. After dropping the first game, Gauff whipped off five straight wins, giving up just one more game before sealing the victory.
After the match, Gauff talked about how she's changed since last year, centering herself in her actions and displaying wisdom way beyond her 18 years.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 31, 2022
“Even last year, I think I was too focused on trying to live up to other people’s expectations of me.
“Just enjoy life. No matter how good or how bad my career is, I think I’m a great person, and that’s a message to all young players. Your results, or your job, or how much money you make doesn’t t define you as a person. As long as you love yourself, who cares what anyone else thinks?
“Other players get out of sight with life. We think tennis is the most important thing in the world, and it’s not. Getting my high school diploma meant a lot to me.”
Trevisan upsets Fernandez in gritty three-setter
Martina Trevisan may only be starting to fulfill her destiny on the tennis court. The 28-year-old Italian, ranked a career-best No. 59 by the WTA, made her first Grand Slam semifinal on Tuesday, defeating 17-seed Leylah Fernandez 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3.
It wasn't the cleanest match for either player. Trevisan took the first set, but had consistently let Fernandez back into the game at the most inopportune times — an issue that she'd have over the entire match. Fernandez also appeared to be struggling with a foot problem, which may have limited her. But then Trevisan dropped her first set of the entire tournament, letting Fernandez take the second set in a tiebreak. Fernandez was fighting hard, but she ran out of gas at the end. Despite the loss, this was a step forward for Fernandez. It's taken some time for her to adjust from being an unknown teenager to the US Open runner-up, and her calm, confident showing at Roland Garros represents a lot of growth.
But for Trevisan, this win is a triumph both professionally and personally. She spent four years away from the sport due to an eating disorder, and since returning in 2014 has made a slow, steady climb up the rankings. She didn't make her Grand Slam debut until 2020. In fact, the 2020 French Open was just her second Grand Slam, and she made it all the way to the quarterfinals.
And now in 2022, she's finally breaking through. She'll play Coco Gauff in the semifinal later this week.
Check back for updated results throughout the day.