Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal in French Open quarter-finals

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Nadal (left) was bidding to win his 10th French Open title
French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 24 May - 7 June
Coverage: Live text and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentaries on every Andy Murray match and other key matches.

Novak Djokovic became only the second man to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open with a straight-sets victory in the quarter-finals in Paris.

The world number one ended the nine-time champion's reign 7-5 6-3 6-1.

The Serb, now two wins from completing the career Grand Slam of all four major titles, will play Andy Murray in the semi-finals on Friday.

Nadal, on his 29th birthday, suffered his first defeat in six years and his second in 72 matches at Roland Garros.

His only previous French Open loss came in the 2009 fourth round against Sweden's Robin Soderling - but this defeat was far less of a shock.

Djokovic, 28, went into the match as the favourite, on a 26-match winning streak and as a man on a mission, desperate to add the French Open to his Wimbledon, Australian and US Open victories.

1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash
"Djokovic deserved the win. If you look at the stats, this looks an upset - but it's not really. The world number one has beaten the world number six or seven who has not been in form.
"Djokovic is playing the best tennis of his career.
"He's been close to beating Nadal before, but he's improved and Rafa's got problems in his game. If you look at the score, it's a good old beating. Novak just does not let up."

"It's definitely a big win, a match that I will remember for a long time," he said afterwards.

"You go through more emotions than for any other match. Of course, playing against Rafa in Roland Garros, it's a special thing. It's a special match."

He added: "Tomorrow is a new day and I have to move on. It's only quarter-finals, and I want to fight for the title.

"That's what I came here for. I have to kind of direct my thoughts to the semis."

The first set lasted a gripping 67 minutes as Djokovic raced into a 4-0 lead after 21 minutes only for Nadal, constantly urging himself on, to haul himself back to 4-4.

Top seed Djokovic pressed hard once again to earn three set points in a 12-minute 10th game, but had to wait until the 12th to make the decisive move.

Nadal missed a routine smash, reminiscent of the overhead Djokovic failed to put away in their epic semi-final two years ago, and eventually succumbed on the sixth break point with a volley into the tram lines.

The Spaniard held on in the early stages of the second set but Djokovic was now giving him far fewer chances as he tightened up his serve, and the pressure told.

Djokovic v Nadal
Djokovic hopes to become the eighth man in history to complete the career Grand Slam after Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Roger Federer, Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal and Fred Perry
Djokovic is through to his 26th Grand Slam semi-final, equalling Andre Agassi in joint-fourth place in the Open era.

Nadal went wide on break point to fall 5-3 behind and Djokovic calmly served out for a two-set lead.

In the end, the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier that has watched Nadal dominate for a decade was left giving him sympathetic applause as he managed to avoid a third-set drubbing.

The Majorcan finally got on the scoreboard at 4-0 down but by now his second serve was being routinely despatched by the Serb.

Nadal could do nothing to combat the barrage of returns and gave up his crown with a double fault after two hours and 26 minutes.

There were no excuses from Nadal afterwards.

"He was better than me. That's it. It's very simple," he said. "When one opponent is playing better than you and is in better shape than you, that can happen."

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is seeking to reach his second successive French Open final
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal suffered his second Grand Slam quarter-final defeat of 2015 having lost at the same stage of the Australian Open

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