Who Has Beaten Rafael Nadal the Most at the French Open?

Published 05/26/2022, 5:16 AM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE June 11. Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on Court Philippe-Chatrier during the semi finals of the singles competition at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on June 11th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal and the French Open often go hand in hand. Largely referred to as the ‘King of Clay’, Nadal is the most successful player in the history of the French Open. Dating back to 1891, the French Open is currently in its 126th edition. And in more than a century-long history, the tournament has seen a number of champions. However, Rafael Nadal leads that race with record-breaking 13 titles.

Playing the French Open every year since 2005, Nadal has dominated every player on his favorite court. Looking at the stats, Nadal has suffered losses in the French Open just four times. Diving deeper, a question that arises is, who has beaten Nadal the most at the French Open?

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In his two-decade-long career, Nadal has been a part of a number of on-court rivalries. However, a rivalry that remains most fierce is that of his arch-rival, Novak Djokovic. The two greatest players of all time have given the tennis world some of the biggest matches to cherish.

Being the leading players of the game, the two have faced each other a whopping 58 times in their careers so far. Getting the rivalry on the French clay courts, Novak Djokovic is the player who has outplayed Nadal twice at the French Open; most by any player since Nadal’s reign.

The rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal

The French rivalry between the two dates back to the quarterfinals of the 2006 French Open. Coincidentally, that was also their first meeting ever. While everyone expected strong competition between the two, that wasn’t the actual case, as Djokovic was forced to retire mid-match after suffering a lower back injury.

Going ahead, one can easily recall the destructive form Nadal was in during that time. Taking that into consideration, Djokovic suffered semifinal losses to Nadal in 2007 and 2008. After the 2008 clash, the two-faced each other 4 years later, in 2012. However, even after four years, the result didn’t seem to change. Nadal outplayed the Serbian with ease. He even repeated his heroics in 2013 and 2014.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 11, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic with Spain’s Rafael Nadal before their semi final match REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

After suffering 6 back-to-back losses, it was finally in 2015 that Djokovic turned the table around. Being on top of the World rankings, Djokovic rewrote history. He got his first victory over Nadal at the French Open. He outplayed the Spaniard 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.

Rafael Nadal is known for his hunger, especially at the Roland Garros. Disappointed by the loss to Djokovic, the Spanish sensation was eagerly awaiting revenge. Notably, his 5-year-long wait ended in 2020. Entering the finals as the defending champion for the 12th time, Nadal was ruthless. Being in a controlling position since the start of the match, he took just 2 hours and 41 minutes to outplay the World No. 1 in straight sets.

However, unlike Nadal, Djokovic didn’t have to wait for five years to seek revenge. The two next faced each in the semifinals of the 2021 French Open. While both players pushed their limits to book a place in the finals, it was Djokovic who finally got his second victory over Nadal at the French Open.

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An anticipated quarterfinal clash at the 2022 French Open

Cut to 2022, the two are currently in Paris playing at the 2022 French Open. While Djokovic has entered the draw as the top seed, Nadal has entered the draw as the 5th seed. Doing the math, if both the players win their early rounds, they will face each other in the quarterfinals. This will be the 10th meeting of the two on the red surface of Stade Roland Garros.

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Looking at their previous performances, both players have equal chances of booking their place in the final four. Nadal kicked off the year by dominating the hard courts. However, rib and foot injuries forced him to struggle on the clay courts. On the other hand, Djokovic kicked off his year on a low note. Regardless, he made a strong comeback on the clay court.

The two are currently in the third round of the 2022 French Open. Who do you think will get the better of the other in Paris this time around?

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Ahmar Wasif

759 articles

Ahmar Wasif is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. He is a national level tennis player and has a number of titles to his name. His experience on the court allows him to incorporate a deeper understanding in his coverage of the sport.

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