Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal in French Open semifinals with fans allowed to defy curfew


Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY
Published 5:37 p.m. ET June 11, 2021 | Updated 6:06 p.m. ET June 11, 2021


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Nadal-Djokovic is mightier than a COVID-19 curfew.

Friday night’s thrilling French Open men’s semifinal match between tennis superstars Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic was allowed to continue on Court Philippe-Chatrier with fans present, defying a city-wide Parisian curfew of 11 p.m., local time.

Djokovic won the match, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, at 11:21 p.m local time. The match took four hours and 11 minutes to finish.

Djokovic reached the French Open final for the sixth time in his career, with his only singles title at Roland Garros coming in 2016. He is seeking his 19th career Grand Slam singles title.

Nadal, who has won the French Open a record 13 times, suffered only his third loss at Roland Garros in 108 matches  – and Djokovic is responsible for two of those defeats.

Nadal had won the past four titles in Paris, part of his collection of 20 Slams, tied with Roger Federer for the most by a man in tennis history.

At 10:40 p.m., a French Open official took to the court and made an announcement indicating that fans could indeed stay through the conclusion of the match.

“In an agreement with public authorities, the match will be allowed to conclude with spectators,” the official said, in French, to the crowd. “It is an exception granted given the completely exceptional nature of the circumstances.”

The crowd erupted in cheers upon hearing the announcement.


🎤 “En accord avec les autorités publiques, le match va pouvoir aller à son terme avec les spectateurs, c’est une tolérance accordée compte tenu du caractère tout à fait exceptionnel des circonstances”.

— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 11, 2021

The announcement came after the end to a competitive third set that Djokovic won to take the lead. 

Pandemic restrictions were eased earlier this week to allow 5,000 fans inside Court Philippe-Chatrier, after only 1,000 had been previously allowed.

The exception came after Djokovic’s French Open quarterfinal against Matteo Berrettini was delayed for about 22 minutes Wednesday night as fans were ordered to leave the stadium to comply with the curfew. Many fans jeered and chanted and even sang “We’ve paid, we’ll stay” as they refused to leave the Djokovic-Berrettini match as the curfew approached.

Djokovic is currently the world’s top-ranked player in the ATP Tour standings and Nadal is ranked third.

Djokovic will go on to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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