Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic: How the Two Legends Have Fared at the French Open

Published 06/10/2021, 5:18 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic after winning the final REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Two of the all-time greats, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, also headline one of the greatest rivalries in men’s tennis. Part of the holy trinity in the men’s game along with Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have found each other on the opposite ends of a tennis court as many as 57 times, producing tennis of the highest order and giving spectators an experience of a lifetime.


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While the Serb leads the Spaniard by a slender margin of 29-28 in career head-to-head clashes, it’s Nadal who has more wins in Grand Slam encounters.

Rafael Nadal leads Novak Djokovic 7-1 in head-to-head clashes at Roland-Garros


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The ‘King of Clay’ leads Djokovic 10-6 in Grand Slam faceoffs, and, significantly, the bulk of his wins came at Roland-Garros. Nadal holds a 7-1 lead over the Serb in career head-to-head battles in the French capital.

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)

Most recently, the Big 2 clashed in the final of the Rome Masters this year and the Spaniard came through in three sets, lifting his 10th career title in the Italian capital.

Their last meeting at Roland-Garros was in the championship clash last year and it ended in a fairly lopsided scoreline of 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in favor of Nadal.

This year, too, the two great rivals are on a collision course and will battle it out for a place in the final on Friday.

While the career head-to-head record in the French capital favors the Spaniard going into the Friday blockbuster, Djokovic will do well to take the recollections of his quarter-final win from 2015 into Philippe-Chatrier.

Expect another close battle as Nadal play Djokovic in the QF on Friday

Worryingly for the Serbian, Nadal looks hungrier than ever for his 14th career title at Roland-Garros.


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Taking full toll of even half-chances and a hint of openings, the Spaniard made short work of his opponents on his way to the last four.

Though he dropped a set in the quarter-final clash against Argentine Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday, the 20-time Grand Slam champion looked largely untroubled as he came through 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.


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Having come out on the winning side of a testing encounter against highly-rated Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in Round-4, Djokovic demonstrated his tennis brawns against Madrid runner-up Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-final on Wednesday to book the Nadal date.

Though history favors the Spaniard going into the Friday duel, expect Djokovic to pull out all stops to prevent Nadal from marching into another Roland-Garros final.



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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.