Italian Open 2021 Finals: Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic Preview, Head-to-Head, Prediction

Published 05/15/2021, 3:27 PM EDT
Novak Djokovic of Serbia shakes hands with Rafael Nadal of Spain after winning the match point during their final singles match daring day 10 of the ATP Cup at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)


After witnessing some brilliant performances in Rome, the Italian Open 2021 has reached its final. The tennis world is not disappointed at all as they’ll get to watch an intense rivalry again in the finale when World No.1 Novak Djokovic will face World No.3 Rafael Nadal. The stage is set as two of the ‘Big Three’ will once again be up against each other- that too in the finals of the Italian Open 2021.

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Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic: Preview

Rafael Nadal has led an amazing campaign so far at the Italian Open 2021. The Spaniard survived a tough match against Denis Shapovalov in the quarters of the tournament. Even after Shapovalov earned match-points, Rafa fought till his last breath and won the marathon match. However, he didn’t face much difficulty in the semis and defeated Reilly Opelka in straight sets.

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Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Spain’s Rafael Nadal on the court before the final REUTERS/Charles Platiau

On the other hand, Novak Djokovic also survived a really close match against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals. He made an incredible comeback after losing the first set to beat the Greek player. Interestingly, he also defeated Lorenzo Sonego in the semis on the very same day to secure his spot in the finals.

While Djokovic will try to find an answer to Rafa’s powerful forehands, Rafa will come prepared to face the fabulous return of the Serbian. Out of the two, Djokovic clearly has the better serve. However, Rafa is the ‘King of the Clay’ and Djoker will surely not take him lightly. Surprisingly, Djokovic hasn’t won a single clay-court tournament this season. On the other side, Rafa has won his 12th Barcelona Open title this year.

Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic: Head-to-Head

The two giants have faced each other 56 times in their career so far. Djokovic leads the head-to-head battle right now with 29 wins over Nadal. Nadal is also not very far away as he also has beaten Djokovic on 27 occasions.

2018 French Open Tennis Tournament – Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia while playing a tie break doubles exhibition match against Simone Halep of Romania and Alexander Zverev of Germany on Court Philippe Chatrier during a packed Children’s Day at Roland Garros before the start of the 2018 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 26th, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

However, Rafa has clearly dominated Djokovic when it comes to playing on clay. In the 25 encounters on the surface, the Spaniard has an 18-7 win-loss record against the World No.1 player.

They last met in the finals of the French Open 2020 where Rafa thrashed Djokovic in straight sets to win his 20th Grand Slam title.

Nadal v Djokovic: Prediction

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Even though Djokovic is some superb form, Rafa will surely begin as the favorite before the match. The Spaniard has a phenomenal record when it comes to playing on clay and it won’t be astonishing if he beats Djoker in straight sets. However, Djokovic too is a fighter and has defeated Nadal in the finals of the Italian Open before this.

Whatever it may be, fans are quite exhilarated about the clash. It is yet another Rafa-Djoker final clash and anybody can clinch the title. Will Nadal be able to conquer Rome for the tenth time this year?

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Anshul Singh

957 articles

Anshul Singh is a tennis author at EssentiallySports, currently pursuing Journalism Honors from Delhi University. Having significant experience with content, Anshul has authored over 500 tennis articles. He has previously worked as a writer and an editor for DU Express, penning riveting articles on sports, politics, and culture.

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