The Serbian lost in four epic sets in Tuesday night’s quarter-final (Pictures: YouTube / Getty)
Novak Djokovic has played down Rafael Nadal’s injury issues, saying he looked ‘100% physically fit’ in Tuesday night’s French Open quarter-final, while he claims almost the entire crowd were on the Spaniard’s side.
The Serbian is set to be dethroned as world number one after losing 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) against his long-standing rival, with their latest epic tussle at Roland Garros not finishing until 1.15am local time after four gruelling hours on court.
Nadal also came through a draining five-set match against Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday, with the past 48 hours providing a serious examination of his foot injury – which the 13-time French Open champ claims could end his career.
Nadal produced another French Open masterclass to beat Djokovic (Getty)
But Djokovic appeared to play down the severity of Nadal’s injury issues, saying he did not see any signs of discomfort out on court, and suggested the Spaniard always finds a way to raise his game when it matters.
As a journalist reeled off all the injury problems Nadal has been coping with so far this season, Djokovic said bluntly: ‘I didn’t see any problems.
Asked if he was surprised with Nadal’s physical condition, Djokovic continued: ‘No I’m not, I’m not surprised at all.
‘It’s not the first time that he is able to, a few days after he is injured and can barely walk, come out 100% physically fit. He has done it many times in his career so I am not surprised.’
Djokovic also felt Nadal’s victory was aided by a very partisan crowd, claiming just 0.1% of the spectators in Paris were on his side with everyone else rooting for the King of Clay.
‘I think the crowd contributed a lot to the turnaround in the fourth set,’ said the Serb. ‘They were 99.9% by his side and they lifted him up in crucial moments. They helped him to find his energy.’
Nadal, meanwhile, continues to suggest this tournament could be his last due to the issues with his foot – which he says are unresolved despite his magnificent performance against Djokovic.
‘I can’t say another thing, no? I am very clear about that, no? I am old enough to not hide things or come here and say a thing that I don’t believe,’ said the 21-time Grand Slam champion.
Nadal faces Alexander Zverev in the semi-final on Friday (Picture: Getty)
‘I don’t know what can happen. I think, as I said before, I’m going to be playing this tournament because we are doing the things to be ready to play this tournament, but I don’t know what’s going to happen after here.
‘I have what I have there in the foot, so if we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution on that then it’s becoming super difficult for me. So that’s it.
‘I am just enjoying every day that I have the chance to be here and without thinking much about what can happen in the future. Of course I’m going to keep fighting for a solution for [my foot] but for the moment we haven’t [found one].’
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