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5 greatest Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic encounters

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 13:  Rafael Nadal of Spain is congratulated by Novak Djokovic of Serbia after winning the semi-finals match during day eight of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis at La Caja Magica on May 13, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Nadal and Djokovic have a good chance of locking horns in the semi-finals of the French Open

The French Open is reaching its twilight stages with the quarter-finals beginning today. In the women’s section, former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and French No. 1 Kristina Mladenovic play their quarter-final games today against Latvian Jelena Ostapenko and former French Open semi-finalist Timea Bacsinszky, respectively.

In the men’s section, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic play their quarter-final matches against Pablo Carreno-Busta and Dominic Thiem respectively. Provided Nadal and Djokovic win today, they will take on each other in the semi-finals and given the kind of form they are in, the likelihood of that happening is quite high.

If Nadal and Djokovic play against each other in the semi-finals, then it would be their 51st meeting with Djokovic leading the head-to-head 26-24 although the Spaniard comprehensively defeated Djokovic in their last meeting at the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

With the probability of a Nadal-Djokovic semi-final extremely high, let’s take a look at five of their most exciting matches in the past.


#5 2014 Rome Masters final

Djokovic came back from a set down to defeat Nadal in the final of the 2014 Rome Masters

Rafael Nadal reached the final of the 2014 Rome Masters but there wasn’t a single match in the tournament that he had won in straight sets. Nadal defeated Grigor Dimitrov to reach the final where he was up against Novak Djokovic who defeated Milos Raonic in the semi-finals.

Nadal began the match brilliantly and took the first set 6-4. However, Djokovic held his nerve and broke twice during the second set to win it 6-3 and level the match. The Serb broke in the third set early but Nadal did not give in and levelled the set at 3-3. However, Djokovic’s brilliance from the baseline eventually got the better of the Spaniard as he won the remaining three games to seal the match and take home his third title in Rome.

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#4 2013 Rogers Cup semi-final

Nadal won a tense encounter against Djokovic to reach the final of the 2013 Rogers Cup

After losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Steve Darcis, Rafael Nadal was looking to make a comeback during the US Open series at the Rogers Cup. The Spaniard had a good tournament as he raced to the semi-finals without dropping a single set.

In the semi-finals, Nadal faced Djokovic who was vying for a third consecutive Rogers Cup title. Nadal began the match well and took the first set 6-4 before Djokovic rebounded to take the second set 6-3.

The third set was a see-saw battle as neither player was willing to throw in the towel, eventually going all the way to a tiebreak. The Spaniard breezed past Djokovic in the tie-break, winning it 7-2 to end the Serb’s unbeaten streak at the Rogers Cup. Nadal eventually went on to win the tournament after defeating Milos Raonic in the final in straight sets.

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#3 2009 Madrid Open semi-final

Nadal and Djokovic played the best match of the 2009 Madrid Masters

After winning the Madrid Masters in 2005, Nadal failed to reach the final in the following three years. In 2009, though, the Spaniard put together a good run, not dropping a single set until the quarter-finals. After beating Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-finals, Nadal was set to face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

The Serb drew first blood, winning the first set convincingly 6-3. In the second set, Nadal saved two break points while serving at 4-4 and eventually took the set in a tiebreak to level the match.

The third set was another exciting one as both players fought hard with the set again going to a tiebreak. During the tiebreak, Nadal saved three match points before edging out Djokovic 11-9 to take his clay-court win streak to 33.

The match lasted four hours and three minutes, thus becoming the longest three-set tennis match in men’s tennis history, a record that was later broken by Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals of the 2012 London Olympics.

However, Nadal would go on to lose the final against Federer in straight sets.

#2 2013 French Open semi-final

The 2013 French Open semi-final between Nadal and Djokovic is considered to be one of the greatest clay-court matches ever

Nadal did not have the best of starts to his French Open campaign in 2013 as he dropped a set each in his first two matches. However, he played more convincingly from the third round, winning his next three matches in straight sets to reach the semi-finals.

In the semis, Nadal was up against top seed Novak Djokovic in a rematch of the 2012 final which Nadal had won in four sets. The southpaw looked in good nick in the first set as he won it 6-4 but Djokovic bounced back well to win the second set 6-3 and level the match.

Nadal breezed past the Serb to take the third set 6-1 but Djokovic held his nerve and edged out the Spaniard to win the fourth set in a tiebreak. Djokovic looked the more dominant player during the fifth set as he managed to go a break up, but Nadal recovered to break back. Nadal eventually broke Djokovic to win the final set 9-7 and reach the final.

In the final, Nadal comfortably defeated his compatriot David Ferrer in straight sets to win his 8th French Open title, the most by any player, male or female. The Nadal-Djokovic semi-final that lasted 4 hours and 37 minutes, is widely regarded to be one of the greatest clay court matches ever.

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#1 2012 Australian Open final

The 2012 Australian Open final is regarded to be one of the greatest matches in tennis history

Considered to be one of the greatest tennis matches of all-time, Nadal and Djokovic put on quite the show in the 2012 Australian Open final. While Nadal defeated Roger Federer to reach the final, Djokovic had to defeat Andy Murray in a match that lasted nearly five hours.

In an exciting first set, Nadal managed to break Djokovic’s serve to win it 7-5 and also went up a break in the second set. However, the Serb bounced back and won the second set 6-4 to level the match. The third set looked one-sided as Djokovic outplayed Nadal to take it 6-2.

The fourth set went to a tie-break where Djokovic led 5-3 before Nadal won the next four points to take the match into a final set. Nadal broke in the sixth game of the final set to move 4-2 up but Djokovic broke back to make it 4-4. The Serb broke for a second time to win the final set 7-5 and claim his third Australian Open title.

The match lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes thus making it the longest final in Grand Slam history, breaking the previous record set by Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl in the 1988 US Open final that lasted 4 hours and 54 minutes.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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