8 times Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal on clay 

Novak Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal eight times on clay
Novak Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal eight times on clay
Neelabhra Roy

Rafael Nadal is the most successful player on clay with 464 wins from 507 professional matches on the surface. The Spaniard's win percentage is a whopping 92%.

Nadal has won the French Open a record 13 times. He also holds the record for most titles at the Monte-Carlo Masters (11), the Madrid Masters (five) and the Italian Open (10).

But no player has challenged Nadal on clay like Novak Djokovic. On clay, the Serb has squared off against the Spaniard on 27 occasions, winning eight times, which is more than any other player.

Nadal and Djokovic have been involved in a number of exciting matches on the terre battue and the latter has on occasion produced scintillating tennis to beat the King of Clay.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the eight instances in which Novak Djokovic triumphed over Rafael Nadal on clay.

#1 2011 Madrid Masters, final

After beating Nadal in the finals of the Indian Wells and Miami Masters, Novak Djokovic once again came up against his great rival in the final of the Madrid Masters. The Spaniard was the top seed and reigning champion and made the final after fighting back from a set down to beat Roger Federer.

Djokovic won his semi-final encounter against Thomaz Belluci in similar fashion. The Serb was brilliant in the final and took advantage of Nadal's fatigue. He won the opening set 7-5 and the second 6-4 to win the Madrid Masters for the first time in his career. This was also the first time he beat Nadal on clay.

Score: Djokovic won 7-5, 6-4


#2 2011 Italian Open, final

Following the Madrid Masters, Nadal and Djokovic met in the final of the Italian Open. The Spaniard was competing for his sixth title in Rome and had little trouble beating Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.

Djokovic, on the other hand, fought off Andy Murray in three sets to reach his third final in Rome. The Serb broke Nadal in the final game of the opening set to win it 6-4. He repeated the feat in the second set to win his second Italian Open title.

Score: Djokovic won 6-4, 6-4


#3 2013 Monte-Carlo Masters, final

Rafael Nadal entered the 2013 Monte-Carlo Masters as the eight-time defending champion and was a heavy favorite to win the title once again. The Spaniard beat Marinko Matosevic, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Grigor Dimitrov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to the final against Djokovic.

The Serb cruised through the opening set after taking a 5-0 lead. Nadal fought hard in the second and earned an early break. However, Djokovic fought back to win the set after taking it to a tie-break. This was Djokovic's first title in Monte-Carlo and Nadal's first loss at the Masters 1000 event since 2005.

Score: Djokovic won 6-2, 7-6(1)


#4 2014 Italian Open, final

After losing to Nadal in the summit clash of the 2013 US Open, Novak Djokovic beat the Spaniard in three successive finals (Beijing, ATP Finals, Miami). The two went on to meet in the summit clash in Rome.

Nadal was the two-time defending champion as well as the top seed. He survived a scare from Andy Murray before beating Grigor Dimitrov to reach the final. Djokovic entered the final on the back of two intense matches against David Ferrer and Milos Raonic.

Nadal started well and won the opening set 6-4. However, Djokovic fought back to take the second. The Serb earned an early break in the third set and won the match after his opponent's backhand went wide. This was Novak Djokovic's second title in Rome.

Score - Djokovic won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3


#5 2015 Monte-Carlo Masters, semifinals

Novak Djokovic met Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2015. The World No. 1 did not drop a set en route to the semifinals while Nadal fought off David Ferrer and John Isner to reach the last four.

Djokovic took the opening set 6-3 and won the second set by the same margin to beat the King of Clay and reach the final of the Monte-Carlo Masters. This was his second victory over Nadal in Monte Carlo.

Score: Djokovic won 6-3, 6-3


#6 2015 French Open, quarterfinals

Novak Djokovic entered the 2015 French Open as the top seed and reached the last eight after straight-sets wins over Jarkko Nieminen, Gilles Muller, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Richard Gasquet.

His quarter-final meeting with Nadal, who was seeded sixth in the tournament, was the earliest stage the two had ever met at a Grand Slam.

The first set was tightly-contested, with Djokovic sneaking it 7-5. The Serb continued his momentum and had little trouble winning the next two sets to advance to the semifinals at Roland Garros. He would eventually lose to Stan Wawrinka in the final.

Score: Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3, 6-1


#7 2016 Italian Open, quarterfinals

Novak Djokovic entered the 2016 Italian Open as the two-time defending champion and was heavily favored to win the title once again. The Serb reached the quarterfinals after beating Stephane Robert and surviving a scare from Thomaz Bellucci.

Facing him in the last eight was fifth seed Nadal, who had beaten Philipp Kohlschreiber and Nick Kyrgios in the earlier rounds. Although the match lasted only two sets, they were both tightly contested.

Nadal earned the first break of the opening set but Djokovic broke back to level the score at 4-4. The Serb then broke again to take the opening set 7-5.

Nadal earned an early break in the second set as well and Djokovic had to save a few set points before breaking back. The set went to a tie-break which the World No. 1 clinched to book his place in the semifinals.

Djokovic went on to reach the final of the Italian Open, where he lost to Andy Murray.

Score: Djokovic won 7-5, 7-6(4)


#8 2021 French Open, semifinals

The most recent encounter between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal came at last year's Roland Garros. The Serb was the top seed and reached the semifinals after beating Matteo Berrettini in four sets. Nadal was seeded third and reached the last four after beating Diego Schwartzman in four sets.

The Spaniard started well and won the opening set 6-3. However, Djokovic bounced back to take the second 6-3. He then won the third set in a tie-break before winning the fourth 6-2 to book his place in the final. With the win, Novak Djokovic became the first player to beat Rafael Nadal twice at Roland Garros.

The Serb beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final to win his second French Open title.

Score: Djokovic won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2


Edited by Nihal Taraporvala


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