It is with a blockbuster that this funny autumnal edition of Roland-Garros will end: Rafael Nadal, who dismissed Diego Schwartzman on Friday in the semi-finals, will face Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas striker in extremis, in a final which will necessarily be historic .
Historic because Nadal is aiming for a 13th trophy on Parisian clay. Never has anyone in tennis history won the same singles title more than 12 times, Major or not. Only Martina Navratilova also won 12 times in the Chicago tournament between 1978 and 1992.
Historical also because if he wins, Nadal will equal the record of 20 Grand Slam titles held by Roger Federer, while in case of victory, Djokovic would pick up a length of the Spaniard (18 for the Serbian, 19 for the 'Spanish).
Finally, historic because if Djokovic wins his 2nd major Parisian trophy after that of 2016, he will become the first in the Open era (1968) to have twice won each of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the first to have beaten Nadal in final on his favorite short Philippe-Chatrier. Even Roger Federer, winner in 2009, did not succeed since that year Nadal was eliminated in the 8th by the future finalist Robin Söderling.
But this meeting was almost missed by Djokovic.
"I remained calm on the surface, but inside it was very different", admitted the Serbian who won 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 close four o'clock.
- End of alert -
Visibly recovered from the physical alert (neck and left arm) of the quarter-finals, the world No. 1 seemed to be heading for a very easy victory against the world No. 6 with a match point in 2 sets to 0 and 5-4 on his service.
It was not ... Because after having saved this match point, it is Tsitsipas, semi-finalist of the Australian Open 2019 then winner of the Masters at the end of the year, who aligned three games of continued and won the third round.
The level then rose sharply and the 22-year-old Greek equalized with two sets everywhere by breaking on the last game.
"After the loss of the 3rd set, I was still there, I still thought I was in control. And after the loss of the 4th set, I was still there and I still felt strong," assured the 33-year-old Serbian. .
He did well to hold out mentally because Tsitsipas collapsed in the last set, yielding his serve three times. Perhaps the pain in the upper left leg for which the doctor gave him a pill mid-game was finally too much.
- Nadal in confidence -
For his part, Nadal qualified much more easily for his 13th final at Roland Garros by disposing of the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman (14th) 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7/0).
"For me, it's incredible to play the Roland-Garros final once again," said the 34-year-old Mallorcan, who has already beaten Djokovic twice in the title match on Parisian clay, in 2012 and 2014.
Schwartzman was very catchy, sometimes even heroic in provoking "Diego! Diego!" among the small thousand spectators.
It could have passed against other players, but not against Nadal. Not on the court fetish of the king of clay, where Spanish flags adorned the stands like drapes would adorn his living room.
Despite points - even games - hung, the score inexorably pared in favor of Nadal in the first two sets.
In the third, despite having taken Schwartzman's service twice, Nadal could not prevent his opponent from pushing him to the tie break. But in this decisive game, he was intractable (7/0).
"I was solid, with the right determination for most of the game, and especially in the tie-breaker. Winning that kind of game, getting out of tough times by being aggressive on the forehand, knowing that I can do it , it gives me confidence, ”commented Nadal.
We can't wait to read the new page of history he and Djokovic will write on Sunday.