“The game with Djokovic could be my last game here,” Nadal said in a somber tone on Sunday. “I know Roland Garros during the day and I prefer to play during the day. I lived through a complicated situation with my foot, and I don’t know what will happen to my career. What I try to do is enjoy and continue to live the dream of playing tennis and reaching the final stages of Roland Garros.
Despite the call, French Open organizers remained skeptical or possibly had contractual obligations to Amazon Prime Video, which owns night session rights in France.
No. 59 will be an overnight match, much like the remarkable semi-final between the two at last year’s French Open turned into one after kicking off in the late afternoon.
“Unfortunately, every year they play a round earlier here,” said Goran Ivanisevic, Djokovic’s coach. “Two years ago it was the final. Last year it was the semi-finals and now the quarter-finals, but this is probably the best quarter-final in the history of Roland-Garros.
Their previous two quarter-final duels at Roland Garros weren’t actually big upsets. In the first in 2006, their first encounter at any level, Djokovic dropped out through injury after losing the first two sets.
In 2015, Djokovic, at the top of his game with Nadal in a protracted slump, became only the second man to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros, routing him 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in what looked, mistakenly, at the end of an era for Nadal at Roland-Garros. He won it four more times.
But he didn’t win it last year as Djokovic became the first man to beat Nadal twice at Roland Garros, winning 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 in a match that peaked in intensity and shooting. in the third set before Nadal, struggling with his footing and Djokovic’s excellence, faded away in the fourth.