Only two days left before the start of Roland-Garros and rises, rises, our appetite for ochre. Sunday will begin the new edition of the International of France, marked by the notorious absence of the master of the place, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, fourteen times winner of the tournament, one of the most resounding feats "in the history of sport", as recalled Guy Forget in a documentary posted this Friday on Prime Video, streaming platform that will broadcast the flagship matches of the fortnight in the evening.
A documentary that zooms in on the extraordinary rivalry opposing for more than fifteen years in Paris the legend born in Mallorca (Spain) to another monster of tennis, originally from the Balkans. "Nadal/Djokovic, duel at Roland-Garros" goes back in time and dissects in an instructive and exciting way the nine confrontations between the two men at Porte d'Auteuil.
Baby faces in 2006
And it starts in 2006 with images showing us the two champions with faces still dolls. We discover the young Djoko, unknown barely 19 years old, splitting the pear in the locker room by scribbling with felt, with the smile of the kid who makes a good mistake, the mention "Vamos Nole" (his nickname) on the back of his shoes. And this while his Spanish opponent, 20 years old and already titleholder at Roland-Garros, plays with tailor-made pairs embroidered with his name.
Another scene, striking, sets the tone. That of the post-match press conference on June 7 when, after withdrawing following the loss of the first two sets, Novak Djokovic says he could have won this quarterfinal. Arrogance or... Foresight?
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The documentary, embellished with interviews with many tennis players (Gustavo Kuerten, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ...), journalists and coaches, manages to highlight the fierce fight of the Serb to catch up with his illustrious elder. A tennis delay, first. Popularity, then. With an extraordinary relentlessness further multiplied in 2013 by the death of the first coach to have given him confidence, Jelena Gencic.
That year, the quest for a title in Paris became his way of drying his tears. An epic that will end with a legendary semi-final finally won by Nadal after a fifth set with breathless suspense. Djoko will also shed tears in 2015 despite a victory over his eternal rival in the quarters.
Shocks, there will be others between these two, whose trajectories we discover in parallel disjointed since childhood. In 2021, in particular, in a world still plunged into the health crisis, Djoko and Nadal will do very well: shift the curfew hours still in force so that the public can attend the end of their Homeric meeting!
"Nadal/Djokovic, duel at Roland-Garros", documentary directed by Céline Jallet, Julie Robert and Antoine Benneteau. On Amazon Prime Video. 1h02.