The two tennis legends are set to face-off in the French Open semi-finals.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic share one of the greatest rivalries in sports today. Both legends have played each other multiple times and are pretty much even in their head-to-head encounter. Djokovic holds a slight edge in the win ratio at 51% compared to Nadal’s 49%. But, whenever they have come face-to-face it has always been a classic.
Now, they are set to meet yet again in the semi-finals of the 2021 French Open – a tournament which heavily favours the Spaniard. Infact the two faced each other right here in the final last year and Nadal wrapped it up in straight sets.
Today we take a look at five of the best matches these two have played against one another:
5. Wimbledon Semi-Final, 2018
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2018. The two rivals met on Centre Court for the first time in eight years and produced a classic. The match went on for over five hours and was exhilarating from start to finish.
The match was so good that it drew comparisons with the Roger Federer-Nadal contest in the final of Wimbledon in 2008. The dramatic encounter finished 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 10-8 with the Serbian coming out on top and progressing to the final. The match holds the record for the second-longest match in Wimbledon history, right after the epic John Isner-Nicolas Mahut clash.
4. French Open Semi-Final, 2013
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met in a rematch of the 2012 French Open final in the semis the following year. But, unfortunately for the Serbian it yet again produced the same result as Nadal clinched the match. This time however the match lasted for a far longer period.
The nearly five-hour match was their longest on clay. The two players alternatively won sets, setting the match up for a decider. In the end, it was the Spaniard who prevailed. The king of clay fought back from a trailing position to finally earn a deserved victory. The final scoreline was 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7. It marked one of the finest matches in Roland Garros history.
3. US Open Final, 2010
Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic and won his first US Open title in 2010. The match that was laden with delightful rallies, amazing winners and impossible saves enthralled the fans.
The 222-minute match had all the entertainment any fan could want. “Right now he’s the best player in the world and he absolutely deserves the title,” confessed Djokovic after the end of their battle. The final scoreline of the match was 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
2. US Open Final, 2011
Novak Djokovic met Rafael Nadal in the final of the 2011 US Open. In a rematch of last year’s final, Djokovic clashed against the defending champion to earn his third Grand Slam of the year.
The match was a meeting between the first and second seeds and there was a lot of buzz surrounding it. Djokovic had the momentum, while Nadal had the experience of winning a title at Flushing Meadows.
The match finished after the fourth set. The Serbian broke Nadal in the second game and coasted to the finish. The final scoreline was 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 for Novak. Djokovic had finally avenged last year’s loss after a four hour and 10 minute battle. It was the first time the men’s singles champion won the title after being a match point down since Andy Roddick’s triumph in 2003. It can be considered as one of Djokovic’s best matches.
1.Australian Open Final, 2012
If you are looking for one of the best matches played between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic this one has to be it. The match that made it’s place in the history books because of it’s duration. The five hour and 53 minute match embodied everything that tennis stands for- grit, resilience, durability, skills and mental toughness.
Such was the physicality of the match that the players were not even able to stand on their feet during the trophy presentation. The Serbian won his third consecutive Grand Slam in the process. Moreover, it was also his seventh straight win over the Spaniard. The match culminated with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 finish.