PARIS — Rafa Nadal overcame a sluggish start and a stiff challenge from Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime with an enthralling 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win on Sunday to set up a mouth-watering quarterfinal with world number one Novak Djokovic.
This was only the third time in his 112 matches that Nadal was taken to the fifth set at Roland Garros and he ensured he kept his blemish-free record intact, wrapping up the win in four hours and 21 minutes to wild applause from the crowd.
Nadal will hope he can recover in time from the gruelling contest for his next outing, where the reigning champion awaits for their 59th career showdown.
The Spaniard, who will turn 36 on Friday, has lifted the Musketeers’ Cup a record 13 times but was ousted in the semifinals last year by Djokovic.
Djokovic completed his victory against Diego Schwartzman on Court Suzanne Lenglen shortly before his long-time rival started his match and the Serb is yet to lose a set in his four rounds.
“Of course, we know each other well. We have a lot of history together,” Nadal said of Djokovic. “I am going to be focused, I will try my best. I don’t know what will happen, but I will fight until the end.” — Reuters