Are Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on a Grand Slam collision course yet again?
As both men play their way through the early rounds of the Men’s Singles at the French Open, both Rafael Nadal (6/4) and Novak Djokovic (7/4) are earning their favourite status.
If the two men meet in the final, who would you rate to win? It looks to be something of a two-horse race already in the betting market for the outright win, with Dominic Thiem close at 4/1 but the next available player being Diego Schwartzman at a massive 40/1.
The history of the two tennis greats Nadal and Djokovic is a fascinating one and is a rivalry that has swung from being dominated by Nadal to the Serbian having the advantage today. Indeed, Djokovic took Nadal’s world number one ranking when he won the 2020 Australian Open, the last open tournaments with stands full of fans.
Having played each other 55 times, Djokovic has won 29 times to Nadal’s 26 victories, but it wasn’t always that way.
They first clashed in 2006, playing at Roland Garros in the French Open quarter-finals, where Nadal won in four sets after the Serb retired injured. Further years of dominance carried on from there, with the Spaniard cementing his place in the pantheon of tennis greats as he won a large number of his 19 Grand Slam titles. By 2008, Nadal had won three French Open semi-finals between the men in a row. The year when the tide started to turn was 2009, when Nadal won the first four meetings during the year, but Djokovic won the final three and after a blank 2010, Nadal winning two matches against Djokovic, the Serbian then won all six meetings in 2011.
The Australian Open final of 2012 saw both men give absolutely everything, and what it produced was one of the most entertaining tennis matches of all-time.
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Post-2012, Djokovic has definitely got the better of Nadal, to such an extent that he has three more wins in matches between the two tennis superstars across their careers in the game. In 2015 and 2016, the pair contested seven matches, with Djokovic winning all of them. In many ways, he’s got into Nadal’s head as the Spanish player’s toughest opponent.
In the last two years alone, Djokovic has beaten Nadal at Wimbledon in a five-set match, smashed him twice in the Australian Open final and remains the only player to have defeated Nadal in four clay court finals, many pundits claiming this is the greatest rivalry of the Open Era.
We look likely to see the latest instalment on a week Sunday.
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