Rafael Nadal on 2021 French Open loss: Novak Djokovic was more efficient, clever

Former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal admitted Novak Djokovic outsmarted him this year’s French Open semifinal. 

Nadal, a record 13-time French Open, was aiming to win a fifth consecutive Roland Garros title this year but Djokovic prevented him. 

Djokovic, ranked at No. 1 in the world, claimed a surprise 3-6 6-3 7-6 (4) 6-2 win over Nadal to reach the French Open final. 

“In the semifinal, he was more efficient and clever than me at important moments, and I also felt like he was physically fresher than me,” Nadal told Number Web. 

“Wish I could have kept the Roland Garros winning streak as long as possible, but I don’t have any regret about this cessation (of winning streak). I’m motivated to make Roland Garros my own again from next year.”

Djokovic knew exactly what he wanted to do against Nadal 

Nadal, 35, has suffered just three losses at the French Open over the course of his career and two of those three losses came against Djokovic. 

“I was feeling good mentally, physically. I was motivated. I had a really clear plan in tactics, what I needed to do in order to perform better than I [did] in last year’s final,” Djokovic said. “The beginning of the match was kind of resembling last year’s final, but I just managed to get myself back into the first set. Even though I lost it, I felt like 3-6 down, I found my game.”

Djokovic lost the opening set to Nadal but didn’t panic and claimed a comeback win. 

“Even though I didn’t have such a great start, I was not too nervous, because I felt like I was hitting the ball very well,” Djokovic said. “It was just a matter of me working my way into the match and adjusting to his ball, which is completely different than any other player’s ball. The amount of spin he plays with from the forehand corner, it’s tremendous. But I was ready.”