Share this article

All You Need to Know About the Epic Rivalry Between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the French Open

Published 05/27/2023, 4:17 PM EDT

Follow Us

via Reuters

The rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic has been one of the most remarkable showdowns in tennis history. Over the span of their careers, the two have entered their name into the GOAT debate while trading blows ever since they faced each other in 2006 in the French Open. On that occasion, Nadal emerged victorious after Djokovic retired from the match. Over the years, they have been involved in a total of 59 matches, with Djokovic leading by a small margin of 30 wins.

America’s Favorite Video Today

In Grand Slams, the players have played against each other 18 times, with Djokovic winning 11 of their bouts. Both have won 22 Grand Slam titles. Nadal leads in victories at the French Open and the US Open, while Djokovic leads in Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

All the times Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic faced each other at the French Open


Article continues below this ad

The first bout between Nadal and Djokovic took place in 2006 at the French Open. The result was in Nadal’s favor as Djokovic retired after dropping two sets. Their next meeting in the red dirt of Paris would take place in 2007, in the semifinal, which was also won by Nadal. He moved past Djokovic in straight sets with a score of 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

via Reuters

The 2008 French Open semifinal once again saw Nadal facing Djokovic. He triumphed again in straight sets of 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (3). However, their next Roland Garros meeting wouldn’t happen until four years later, in 2012. It was the fourth consecutive major final between Rafa and Nole, which was won by the Spaniard in four sets: 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. This marked the first time Djokovic won a set against Nadal in the French Open. 


Get instantly notified of the hottest Tennis stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

“Biggest Challenge in Our Sport” – Novak Djokovic on Facing Rafael Nadal at French Open 2020 Finals

They would meet again for a chance at the title in 2013. It was their most intense bout at the clay major, with the match ending in five sets. Nadal again emerged victorious. This time, it took the ‘King of Clay’ five sets: 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7. The 2014 tournament would again see the Spaniard and the Serb battle it out for a third time. Maintaining his dominance, Nadal would win with a score of 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4.

The 2015 season, however, would bring about an astounding change as Djokovic won against Nadal in their quarterfinal bout. He won in straight sets of 7-5, 6-3, 6-1. Five years later, Nadal would exact his revenge as he won against his archrival (6-0, 6-2, 7-5) in another final. The 2021 season would see them facing each other in the semifinal, which became the court at which Djokovic defeated Nadal for the second time (3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2). In their latest meeting in the 2022 quarterfinal, Nadal won again. It took him for sets to overcome the challenge of the ‘Djoker’. The final score read 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) in favor of the ‘King of Clay’. 

This tally means that Nadal has an 8-2 record against Djokovic on clay. 

Djokovic: the only player to beat Nadal the most at Roland Garros

The ‘King of Clay’ title has been bestowed upon Nadal for a reason. The Spaniard has won the clay grand slam a total of 14 times in the 18 times he has competed for the title. Considering the Spaniard’s impressive record, Djokovic’s achievement at Roland Garros is quite impressive. Of the four times Nadal has lost in the tournament, two of those defeats have been dealt by Djokovic. 

via Reuters

2015 and 2021 were notable years for the Serbian player as he triumphed over Nadal. He also won the 2021 Roland Garros, making it his second major title on clay. Nole is the only player who has defeated Nadal twice in the French Open. The only other player to defeat him was Robin Söderling, in 2009. His fourth loss came due to a wrist injury, which prompted him to retire before his third-round bout. 

Rafael Nadal’s epic win against Novak Djokovic at French Open 2022

3 of their last 5 bouts have been held in the French Open. Unfortunately for Djokovic, Nadal has triumphed each time. In the 2022 season, they played each other in the quarterfinal of the tournament, which was won by Nadal. Their bout showed another fine display of tennis by players competing for the GOAT title.

Nadal won the first set against Djokovic with ease as it ended at 6-4. However, Djokovic came back in the match and won the second set to put the score at 6-4, 4-6. But Nole eventually succumbed to the relentless pressure of Nadal, as he won two sets continuously, winning the match. The match’s final score was 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4).

Status of the both the legendary players for the upcoming French Open 2023


Article continues below this ad

Nole and Rafa haven’t played against each other since the French Open in 2022. With the Roland Garros on the horizon, the entire world is hoping to see who will advance in the grand slam tally, as both are tied at 22. While Djokovic won the Australian Open, Nadal had to withdraw due to an injury. He has been unable to play competitively since then. He recently revealed his withdrawal from his beloved French Open while also hinting at retirement in 2024.


After playing in the SRPSKA Open, Djokovic was out due to injury. He missed the Madrid Open and couldn’t perform well in the Monte Carlo Masters. He was recently defeated by Holger Rune at the Italian Open.


Article continues below this ad

As Nadal will be absent from Roland Garros, Djokovic has a great chance of surpassing his archrival’s Grand Slam tally. Can he do it?

Watch this story – ‘Rafa Is Usually the Grabber, Not the Grabbie’- Spanish Tennis Veteran’s Adorable Rafael Nadal ‘B*TT’ Tale Sparks Hilarious Reactions From Fans

Providing feedback will help us make your experience better.

The Fan's Perspective

Enjoyed Your Read? Let us know how likely you are to recommend EssentiallySports to your friends!

Least Likely

Most Likely



Written by:

Ripunjay Gaba


One take at a time

Ripunjay is a Tennis writer with an unwavering passion for the sport and a deep admiration for Roger Federer. He specializes in providing in-depth coverage of everything related to the 'Swiss Maestro.' Ripunjay's love for tennis is evident in the quality of his writing, which is characterized by its clarity, depth, and insightful analysis.
Show More>

Edited by:

Tony Thomas