Nadal v Djokovic -- the most contested rivalry

3 min read
Read later

Novak Djokovic and Spain's Rafael Nadal | Photo: AP

Paris: Rafael Nadal's rivalry with Roger Federer will forever be remembered for a series of classic clashes, but his head-to-head record against Novak Djokovic has featured more matches and been more closely fought.

A record-breaking 59 meetings have seen Djokovic come out on top 30 times, although Nadal has won 11 of 18 Grand Slam matches.

In the Open era, no men have met more often on the ATP Tour, with Djokovic and Federer having played 50 times.

It remains to be seen how often they will meet again after Nadal on Thursday withdrew from the French Open and revealed that 2024 is likely to be his last season.

Between them, Djokovic and Nadal have won a staggering 44 of the last 71 major tournaments, dating back to 2005.

"My greatest rival is Novak Djokovic," Nadal told Globo Esporte last November.

"After all, he is the one who is closest to the number of Grand Slams. And for all the times we face each other, for our history."

Djokovic has reigned supreme on hard courts for much of his career, winning a record 10 Australian Opens and three US Open titles.

He leads Nadal 20-7 on the surface, although Nadal holds a 20-8 edge on clay, on which he has powered to 14 French Open crowns.

The pair have only played four times on grass courts, with two victories apiece.

"I respect Rafa, probably more than any other player in the world -- he is the biggest rival I had in my life," Djokovic said in 2021.

Nadal first faced a teenage Djokovic in the 2006 French Open quarter-finals, easing to victory as the Serb retired injured after losing the first two sets.

He won 14 of their first 18 matches, before Djokovic reeled off three straight victories on hard courts in 2009.

Their first major final meeting came the following year at the US Open, when Nadal won in four sets to complete the career Grand Slam.

The early 2010s confirmed their rivalry as a battle for the ages, with several marathon matches on the biggest stages.

Djokovic fought back from 4-2 down in a deciding set to win the longest ever Grand Slam final at the 2012 Australian Open, lasting five hours and 53 minutes.

Nadal continued to live up to his billing as the 'King of Clay', defeating Djokovic later that year at Roland Garros in a final played over two days due to rain.

Probably their greatest clash on the red dirt came 12 months later, when Nadal kept Djokovic waiting for the career Slam with a memorable French Open semi-final triumph, prevailing 9-7 in the fifth set.

The duo had also faced off in the 2011 Wimbledon showpiece, which Djokovic took in four sets to win the title for the first time.

Their only other Wimbledon clash came seven years later, but was another classic.

Nadal was denied a first final at the All England Club since 2011 as Djokovic won 10-8 in a fifth set before seeing off Kevin Anderson to win the trophy.

The Spaniard has maintained his dominance on clay, taking his French Open record against Djokovic to 8-2 with a dramatic quarter-final victory last year.

Despite that, Djokovic enjoyed the limelight of being responsible for two of only the three defeats Nadal suffered in Paris -- in the 2015 quarter-finals and semi-finals in 2021, the year he captured a second Roland Garros crown.


Add Comment
Related Topics

Get daily updates from

Disclaimer: Kindly avoid objectionable, derogatory, unlawful and lewd comments, while responding to reports. Such comments are punishable under cyber laws. Please keep away from personal attacks. The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of readers and not that of Mathrubhumi.