As an epic rematch of the 2012 French Open finals, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic's marathon semifinal provided the world with a few lessons.
(3) Nadal defeated (1) Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7.
Roland Garros' official website has a recap of the instant classic, but the numbers don't do these players justice. In a back-and-forth match, nobody knew how long the battle would last.
Unfortunately for tennis fans, the 2013 finals will have a hard time living up to this semifinal.
As draining as this match may have been for Nadal, he will be ready to face the winner of David Ferrer (ESP) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA).
Djokovic, the world's top-ranked player, will be disappointed with the outcome, but he played very well.
Here are a few takeaways from the opening match of Day 13 at the 2013 French Open.
Nadal owns Paris
He may have pulled off an upset based on seeding, but the third-seeded Nadal (ESP) surprised no one by returning to the finals in Paris.
The defending French Open champion has already won the tournament a record seven times, including three straight. There's still one more round to go for number eight, but he looks poised to add to his collection.
The number of titles is impressive by itself, but let's check out what ESPN has to say about his overall record at the French Open.
One loss. That's it. He's won all but one French Open that he has participated in and was eliminated in the fourth round of the other.
Djokovic will have to wait to complete the career Grand Slam
The 26-year-old is No. 1 in the world for a reason, but he can't get past Nadal at the French Open.
It's the only Grand Slam tournament that Djokovic (SRB) hasn't won, although he has been close the last few years. He lost to Nadal in the finals last year and couldn't put his rival away this year.
Djokovic will need to find some way to end Nadal's reign in Paris. It won't be an easy task, and both should still be around for quite a while.
For now, Djokovic will have to be content with owning the Australian Open, where he's won the last three tournaments.
He has reached the semifinals in each of the last 12 Grand Slam tournaments, and he has won five of those. Until he can top Nadal in Paris and win the French Open, his career will still be missing one key title.
Djokovic is ranked higher, but Nadal is playing at a higher level
Nadal has reached the finals in each of the nine tournaments he has played in this year, and has won seven of them.
Along the way, he has beaten Djokovic, Roger Federer (SUI), Ferrer and Tsonga. He has defeated Federer and Ferrer multiple times this year. Ferrer and Tsonga will battle it out to see who will face Nadal in the finals, but neither has defeated Nadal this year.
With an eighth French Open title, Nadal would be able to add to this year's collection of trophies.
The semifinal match showed that Nadal was playing better, and not just because of the final score.
Djokovic committed 75 unforced errors compared to only 44 by Nadal. Although the rest of the numbers showed Djokovic played well, anyone watching could see that Nadal was on top of his game.
He was placing the ball exactly where he wanted, which made it difficult for Djokovic to take control of the match. Djokovic had his chances to win the match, but Nadal's placement and movement late in the match was tough to beat.
*All stats are from Roland Garros' official website.
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