Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to Renew Epic Tennis Rivalry in 2021

Published 01/09/2021, 10:00 AM CST
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)


As the new tennis season arrives, some old rivalries will be renewed. Top stars like Rafael Nadal and will be drawing fresh battle lines as they bid to go against each other again.

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While only time will tell if scores will be settled or winning streaks will be extended, what’s guaranteed is unadulterated and scintillating tennis action that is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Old foes Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic to draw fresh battle lines again

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Talking about rivalries in modern-day tennis, there’s hardly one more engaging and absorbing for viewers than the one between 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and Serb superstar Novak Djokovic, who rounds off the ‘Big Three’ in men’s tennis along with Roger Federer.

While Nadal’s 13th French Open title last year brought him on par with Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic, too, clinched his 17th Major trophy at the Australian Open.

With Federer still short of full fitness after a knee surgery and unsure of returning to action at least till Wimbledon, the field will open up for the Spaniard and his Serb rival to make further strides in the race for ‘GOAT’.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – October 11, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Spain’s Rafael Nadal during the final REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Nadal and Djokovic to wage battles for most Grand Slams

While Nadal will gun for his 21st title which will take him past Federer’s haul and put him on a pedestal where no other player in the men’s field has reached before, Djokovic has four Grand Slams to close the gap with the Spaniard and the Swiss Master.

Familiar foes in the men’s circuit, the two have been involved in as many as 56 head-to-head battles, with Djokovic holding a marginal 29-27 lead. 

However, it is the Spaniard who holds a 10-6 lead over the Serb in 16 head-to-head battles in Grand Slam events.

Rafael Nadal holds 10-6 Grand Slam head-to-head lead over Djokovic

While most of the Serb’s wins have come on hard courts, Nadal got his own back on clay.

Their last meeting was the title showdown at the Roland-Garros last year, which Nadal won in four sets.

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They were in sight of their 17th meeting at the ATP Finals last year but lost their respective semi-final encounters.

While Djokovic fell to Austrian Dominic Thiem in a nerve-jangling three-setter, Nadal lost to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev after leading the Russian by a set and break of serve.

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Their progress in Grand Slams will determine at what stage they play each other, but as has been the case with tennis fans and pundits over 56 matches, it won’t be an easy battle to call.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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