French Open day 13: A four-hour and 11-minute Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal epic, HawkEye debate rages on

Rafael Nadal waves goodbye

Rafael Nadal suffered just the third loss of his career at the French Open as Novak Djokovic claimed victory in a sensational semi-final.

The world number one lost the first five games but fought back to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 after four hours and 11 minutes, with fans given special permission to stay beyond Paris’ 11pm curfew.

On Sunday, Djokovic will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas, who held his nerve to reach a first Grand Slam final with a five-set victory over Alexander Zverev.

Picture of the day

Novak Djokovic on the slide

Novak Djokovic stretches for a backhand with Rafael Nadal watching (Christophe Ena/AP)

Tweet of the day

HawkEye debate

Barbora Krejcikova and chair umpire check a mark

Barbora Krejcikova and the umpire debate the contentious mark (Christophe Ena/AP)

Discussion continued on Friday over the merits of using line-calling technology on clay after the over-rule that could have cost Barbora Krejcikova a place in the singles final. Many pundits and former players were up in arms after HawkEye – which is used by TV companies but not the tournament – showed the ball to be out.

Tournament director Guy Forget told Eurosport: “It’s a long debate we’ve had before – the image HawkEye shows and the mark that actually shows on the court can be different. If the ball touches the line and on HawkEye it looks out, should we show it on TV while the system is not 100 per cent accurate?”

New deal for Eurosport

The French Open will be shown in the UK on Eurosport for at least another five years after the channel’s parent company, Discovery, signed a new deal with the French Tennis Federation until 2026.

More tennis in Britain

Grass courts in Great Britain

There will be more tennis events in Britain in 2022 (Zac Goodwin/PA)

British players have routinely highlighted a lack of playing opportunities in this country as one reason for a dearth of tour-level players. The Lawn Tennis Association is moving to address this with a pledge to host at least 30 lower-level professional events in 2022 in addition to the grass-court programme.

But the barriers to staging tournaments at the moment, including travel restrictions and prohibitive costs, mean there will be no events from July through September, meaning the cancellation for this year in Glasgow of the Murray Trophy.

Who’s up next?

Krejcikova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova face the biggest match of their careers in an unexpected women’s singles final.

Neither woman had been beyond the last eight at a grand slam before and this will be the first time they have played each other.

France will have high hopes for the men’s doubles final, where 2018 champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert take on Kazakh duo Alexander Bublik and Andrey Golubev.

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