Novak Djokovic cops brutal post-match blow after loss to Rafa Nadal

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after his loss to Rafa Nadal at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic was gutted after his loss to Rafa Nadal at the French Open. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic is set to lose his World No.1 ranking and fall to No.3 after his loss to Rafa Nadal at the French Open on Tuesday.

Nadal advanced to the semi-finals at Roland Garros after beating his long-time rival 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (4) in a titanic tussle that lasted over four hours and finished at 1:12am.

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Djokovic appeared gutted after the match and failed to acknowledge the crowd as he made his way off court.

But the bad news will only get worse for the 20-time grand slam champ, who is set to lose his World No.1 ranking in the aftermath.

According to leading tennis writer Jose Morgado, Djokovic will fall to No.3 when the ATP rankings are next updated, with Daniil Medvedev taking the top spot.

But in an extraordinary twist, Alexander Zverev is set to be the top seed at Wimbledon because Medvedev won't be allowed to play.

Medvedev has been barred from the grass-court grand slam due to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, with all Russian and Belarusian players excluded.

That means Zverev, who is likely to be World No.2 by the time Wimbledon kicks off, will be the top seed at the All England Club.

What's more, Zverev will become just the second player outside the 'Big 4' (Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray) to break into the top two since 2005.

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With a mix of brilliant shot-making and his trademark resilience, Nadal moved a step closer to his 14th championship at the French Open and what would be a record-extending 22nd major overall.

"To win against Novak, there is only one way - to play at your best from the first point to the last," Nadal said.

"Tonight has been one of those magic nights for me.

"Always playing against him is an amazing challenge. All the history we have together, today was another one."

Tuesday night's showdown was the 59th of their storied careers - more than any other pair of men have played each other since the Open era began in 1968.

Rafa Nadal, pictured here celebrating after beating Novak Djokovic at the French Open.
Rafa Nadal celebrates after beating Novak Djokovic at the French Open. (Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) (Eurasia Sport Images via Getty Images)

Nadal narrowed Djokovic's head-to-head lead to 30-29, while improving to 8-2 against his rival at Roland Garros.

Nadal is now 110-3 for his career at the French Open, with two of those losses coming against Djokovic.

The Spanish champion got a measure of revenge after Djokovic beat him in the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year.

However the 35-year-old had a telling response when asked if he'd be coming back to the French Open next year.

“See you in two days, that’s all I can say," he replied.

Many fans and commentators have speculated that this will be Nadal's final year on tour, with the Spaniard battling a number of injuries in recent years.

He also suffers from a chronic foot injury that he previously said can't be fixed.

Either way, he will take on Alexander Zverev in Thursday's semi-finals with a place in the decider on the line.

Zverev reached his second semi in a row by holding off 19-year-old rising star Carlos Alcaraz 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6 (9-7).

"Not really getting easier from here," Zverev said after ending to Alcaraz's 14-match winning streak.

"I told him at the net, 'You're going to win this tournament a lot of times, not just once'.

"I hope I can win it before he starts ... beating us all."

with AAP

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