2022 French Open: Rafael Nadal survives stern test against Felix Auger-Aliassime
Nadal reacts after edging Auger-Aliassime/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

For just the third time in 112 career matches at the French Open, Rafael Nadal was taken to five sets as the 13-time Roland Garros champion edged out Felix Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

The ninth-seeded Canadian dominated the early stages of the match, winning five of the first six games en route to the first set. Nadal responded in kind, rolling through the second and third to take the lead.

Auger-Aliassime gutted out the fourth and had the upset in his sights, but a loose game late in the fifth was all Nadal needed and he closed things out in four hours, 21 minutes.

The result sets up a 59th career meeting between the Spaniard and top seed Novak Djokovic, who has yet to drop a set in Paris, in the quarterfinals.

Story of the match

Things appeared to go the way they usually do for Nadal in Paris as he had two break points in the third game of the match, but poor backhand returns and big serving got Auger-Aliassime out of trouble.

That spurred the ninth-seeded Canadian on and he secured the first break of the match, winning consecutive rallies to go in front 3-1. Saving three more break points consolidates his advantage.

Auger-Aliassime looked strong in winning the first set/Photo: Ibrahim Ezzat/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Another break followed and with the set seemingly over, Nadal clawed back one break, but given a second chance to close it out, Auger-Aliassime held to love.

Playing from behind on serve is never a recipe for success and it eventually took its toll on the ninth seed, who shanked a forehand on break point in the eighth game to hand Nadal the break.

The Spaniard served out the set to 30, a backhand and tap-down on set point finishing things off and it was more of the same in the third, breaking twice to seemingly order and take a two sets to one lead.

Nadal dominated the middle stages of the match/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Nadal dominated the middle stages of the match/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Auger-Aliassime fought back and three straight breaks of serve meant the Canadian, who won his first career title in Rotterdam earlier this year, led 3-1.

He held his nerve long enough and a commanding hold to love while serving for the set, punctuated with a powerful smash winner, gave him the fourth and stretched Nadal to the limit.

Neither man made much of an impression on the other's serve in the final set until the 13-time champion showed his very best on break point, scampering to punch the ball over on its second bounce to gain a 5-3 edge.

Auger-Aliassime was able to take the first point and had a second serve to look at, but Nadal still won the point and a volley and thumping forehand later put him at match point, taken to set up a mouthwatering clash with Djokovic.

The Spaniard remained on course for a 14th <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/tennis-usa/2022/05/16/1111858-french-open-qualifiers-day-1-what-to-watch-for.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/tennis-usa/2022/05/16/1111858-french-open-qualifiers-day-1-what-to-watch-for.html'>Roland Garros</a></strong> title/Photo: Ibrahim Ezzat/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The Spaniard remained on course for a 14th Roland Garros title/Photo: Ibrahim Ezzat/NurPhoto via Getty Images