Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced each other in 15 consecutive years on the ATP Tour. Their 56th meeting career meeting will be their most important battle since early 2019. On Sunday, the two gladiators of tennis face each other in the French Open 2020 final, and fireworks are expected again.
It’s not that Nadal and Djokovic have never had battles that ended in straight-set wins for either of the two. However, every time they face each other, there are points and rallies which go down in memory and in history as some of the greatest points played.
One of their best points came in one of the early matches in their rivalry. In their Shanghai Masters match in 2007, Nadal and Djokovic had played one of the fiercest rallies ever. Nadal faced a break-point midway through the second set when both men hit massive groundstrokes while the other defended everything thrown at him.
Nadal eventually won the duel at the net, bringing out his iconic first-pump celebration.
On clay, an iconic point at the start of the third set of their 2009 Monte Carlo Masters left Djokovic on his knees as it ended. Once again, Nadal produced the goods when facing a break-point. A lengthy rally again ended at the net, as Nadal produced one of the most unbelievable forehand pick-up winners off a Djokovic drop shot.
Another stunning point on clay came during their 2016 Rome quarter-final. This time, Djokovic showed the extent of his defensive skills as he fended off numerous pounding shots from Nadal. Then, he rushed from deep behind the baseline to meet a drop volley from Nadal. He won the set with an incredible stretch volley of his own.
Once again, at the Italian Open, a lengthy rally saw Nadal showing his ability to turn defense into attack. Djokovic replied with the same and left Nadal reeling. This prompted the famous tennis commentator Robbie Koenig to say that he was watching ‘tennis nearer the gods.’
In another point on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters, Djokovic showed great speed from behind the baseline and met Nadal’s drop shot with a strong lob. Nadal then pulled out on his no-look smashes with his back facing Djokovic. As the ball came back at speed, Nadal kept his balance and stretched on the forehand side. He then put the ball past his opponent, leaving him in awe.
The list of such points from Nadal-Djokovic clashes is endless. They get ready to face each other in yet another final with so much at stake for both men. This list might just be extended with many more epic rallies.