At the gates of Paris, the Emperor Nadal

After 2h 49m, Novak Djokovic’s backhand ends up unraveling towards the corridor and surrendering to the right of Rafael Nadal, who repeated and warned on Saturday: “Roland Garros? The work is done, I think I am ready ”. The Balearic is, who resolves in his favor a beautiful skirmish, from power to power once again between the two (7-5, 1-6 and 6-3), and sixteen years after his first Roman scepter he catches his tenth trophy in the Foro Italico to balance the historical record in the Masters 1000, with 36 in both boxes. The face to face between one and the other is compressed again, 29-28 in favor of Nole, and the last month’s plot speaks to the faces: indeed, Nadal, incandescent when necessary, is ready for Paris, where he will land as the undisputed favorite.

The leaden Roman afternoon, clouds, little light and sticky heat to continue putting the resistance of the two protagonists to the test, gained temperature immediately because neither of them is mean when they face each other: on fire from the first ball, without half measures. From gladiator to gladiator. Fangs out and whatever it has to be. More incisive Djokovic, more contemporaneous Nadal. The Serbian was pressing the need for the wear of the previous day – double intervention, and closing at half past nine at night – and the Spanish, king of the board in the interpretation of the game, was interested in a more cumbersome development to guide rival to the thinking corner.

Body to body, then, from the beginning. Chess game. Nole entered shaking from all angles, trying to shorten the points, and Nadal slowed down to look for the tickles, posing long-distance exchanges. The acceleration of the Balkan prevailed first, which after three failed options enshrined the first break and was immediately found with a replica. At each push from the Serbian, Nadal responded with an authoritarian maneuver, telling him that he was there, that if he wanted to knock him down he was going to have to embroider it and not lose his temper, because in matters of head, he rarely loses his place.

After processing that first section, the Mallorcan (34 years old) reinterpreted on the fly and considered that the afternoon required another reading, a bit more daring. He reviewed the strategy booklet and changed his suit. Rome usually rewards the brave and chose to take a step forward to go deeper in a more direct way, and from there there was a beneficial oscillation. Meanwhile, the happy lines. Again. New blush for the tournament, which has seen the seams. If a couple of days ago he hit the sand when he stumbled on a bad dunk and took a good kick, this time the impact was even more dangerous.

Hunting for a short volley, Nadal activated the turbo and stumbled, landing acrobatically near the advertising support on the side, close to the bench and the judge’s chair, and throwing the racket into suspension on the other side of the net to avoid greater evils. “The bloody lines! In the end we are going to kill each other! “, I reproached the referee, Carlos Bernardes, who drew a face of resignation:” What can I do? Are you okay?”. The pistero, hammer in hand, put the head on: knock, knock, knock. Three taps and go. Rome and antiquity, you know. Meanwhile, Nole tried to repair other protruding nails on the opposite side with her foot, and both were bothered by the excess sand in their shoes.

The number one also started to piss off other things. First the murmur, then the clay and bad support, and then the wind; not too much, but it was there and the one in Belgrade is about externalizing and expressing, so when Nadal – injured on the outside of one knee by the blow – began to multiply the influence of his right and to double the record of winners, break on the serve, 6-5, he directed his gaze hovering over the bench and swore in Serbian. Head down from your coach, Marian Vajda. It usually happens: the scream freed him, and despite the fact that the Spaniard sealed the set with a reversed shot, showing off his boxing leg movement again, Djokovic found the trapdoor he needed to re-engage.

He took advantage of a couple of slips by the Balearic Islands, two bad choices, to counterattack, entangle and guide the pulse to where he was interested. If you were in a hurry before, now the debate suited you; before the powerful discharge of Nadal, pause and changes of rhythm. Spider web. Double break: 3-1, 5-1 and set. Two purebred strategists. The delicious old guard. Djokovic tensed the game and Nadal, strangely, got a low blow that paled his serve and introduced him into a sinkhole. “There is not much, land, no, what there is is a hole,” the Spaniard said to Bernardes, already in the third sleeve, when both were fighting on a very fine wire, so the first false step was going to mean the condemnation . Nole gave it. Manacor’s was rearranged and managed the suspense better. He put the lock at his service and charged for 4-2, with 37 winners on the card.

Again, for the tenth time, the Emperor Nadal.

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