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Djokovic: I Lost to a Better Player Today

Novak Djokovic nearly pushed Rafael Nadal to a fifth set in a dramatic Roland Garros quarterfinal.

Ultimately, king of clay Nadal dethroned reigning Roland Garros champion Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) to continue his quest for a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown.

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Djokovic, who held set points when serving for the fourth set at 5-3, credited rival Nadal as playing pivotal points better.

"He was just able to take his tennis to another level in those, particularly moments at the beginning of all sets, actually, except the fourth," Djokovic told the media in Paris. "I had my chances. You know, I had my chances in the fourth. Served for the set, couple set points.

"Yeah, just one or two shots. Could have taken me into a fifth. Then it's really anybody's match. But again, he showed why he's a great champion. You know, staying there mentally tough and finishing the match the way he did. Congrats to him and his team. No doubt he deserved it."

Australian Open champion Nadal avenged his 2021 Roland Garros semifinal setback to Djokovic. The Serbian still holds a 30-29 lead in the pair's head-to-head series.

It's a massive moment for Nadal, who now stands two wins from a 14th Roland Garros title, which would put him halfway to the calendar Grand Slam.

"Look, you know, I gave my best," Djokovic said. "You know, I know I could have played better. I'm proud of fighting and staying till the last shot.

"As I said, you know, I lost to a better player today. Had my chances. Didn't use them. That's it. You know, over four hours' battle, and I have to accept this defeat."

Photo credit: Getty