“The match with Djokovic could be my last game here,” Nadal said on Sunday. “I know Roland Garros during the day and I prefer playing during the day. I went through a complicated situation with my feet, I don’t know what will happen in my career. What I try to do is have fun and continue living the dream of playing tennis and reaching the final rounds of Roland Garros.”
Despite this appeal, the organizers of the French Open remained unconvinced or may have had contractual obligations to Amazon Prime Video, which holds the rights to the night session in France.
No. 59 will be a night match, just as the impressive semi-final match between the two at last year’s French Open turned into a one-on-one after it started in the late afternoon.
“Unfortunately, every year they play a former role here,” said Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic. “Two years ago it was the final. Last year it was the semi-final and now the quarter-final, but it is probably the best quarter-final ever in the history of the French Open.”
The previous two quarter-final matches at Roland Garros weren’t really two big shake-ups. In their first meeting in 2006 at any level, Djokovic retired from his injury after losing the first two sets.
In 2015, Djokovic, who was at the height of his brilliance with Nadal in a long slump, became the second man to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros, defeating him 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in what, incorrectly, looked like the end of the match. Nadal era in the French Open. He won it four more times.
But he didn’t win it last year, as Djokovic became the first man to defeat Nadal twice at the French Open, winning 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in a tough match that culminated in shot making. In the third set before Nadal, he struggled with his foot and distinguished Djokovic, fading out in the fourth set.