Surprising stat shows how badly Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic have hurt each other

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal
Sohinee Basu

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic share an intense rivalry, which often gets overshadowed by Roger Federer's epic rivalry with the Spaniard. But while the 'Fedal' has been more historic and far-reaching, 'Djodal' has been more closely matched.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have kept a check on each other throughout their illustrious careers, standing toe-to-toe in every aspect. And in a rather surprising stat, each of them is responsible for inflicting upon the other the most losses by a single player.

The Spaniard and the Serb share 36 Grand Slam titles between them, and have met each other on 55 occasions. No two players in the Open Era have gone head-to-head as many times as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have.

While Nadal and Djokovic have together dominated the competition at the Slams, fiercely keeping the NextGen at bay, they have also cost each other a lot.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have spelled doom for each other on a record number of occasions

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

Current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has had the last laugh over Rafael Nadal in as many as 29 matches. That is the highest number of defeats the 12-time French Open champion has faced against any player in the circuit, and also the highest number of times Djokovic has beaten any player.

Of Rafael Nadal's 29 losses to Novak Djokovic, six have come in Grand Slams - including four in Slam finals. That means Djokovic's presence has legitimately cost Nadal four Majors; if not for the Serb, the Spaniard would've been standing at 23 Slams right now.

The player with the next highest tally of losses against Novak Djokovic is Roger Federer, with 27. The Swiss is followed closely by Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, each of whom has lost 25 times to the Serb.

Ironically enough though, Novak Djokovic himself has incurred the highest number of losses at the hands of Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has beaten Djokovic on 26 occasions, which incidentally is also the joint-most wins Nadal has registered against any player (the other being David Ferrer, who is now retired).

Of Novak Djokovic's 26 defeats to Rafael Nadal, nine have come in Grand Slams - including four in Slam finals. In other words, Nadal's presence has robbed Djokovic for four Majors; the Serb would have been sitting at 21 right now if it hadn't been for the Spaniard.

Next in the list of Rafael Nadal's victims is, not surprisingly, Roger Federer; the Swiss maestro has lost to the current World No. 2 as many as 24 times. And Berdych again rounds off the top four, having lost to Nadal 20 times.

The raw intensity of every Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic match has always been a sight to behold. The arch-rivals have had many memorable, hard-fought matches between them, with the 2012 Australian Open final, the 2013 Roland Garros semifinal and the 2018 Wimbledon semifinal particularly standing out.

But the stats also show how deeply the two men have hurt each other's careers. If Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic hadn't belonged to the same era, and thus hadn't kept running into each other in big matches, how much more success would each of them have achieved? It's a fascinating question, even if purely hypothetical.

Novak Djokovic has won 10 out of the last 13 matches against Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Australian Open Final
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Australian Open Final

Novak Djokovic has spelled big trouble for Rafael Nadal outside clay, especially on hardcourt. While the two men have split their last six claycourt meeting 3-3, their recent meetings on quicker surfaces have gone in just one direction.

The Serb has won a staggering 10 out of the last 13 matches he has played against the Spaniard, and nine consecutive matches on harcourt. In fact, the last time Nadal beat Djokovic outside clay was back in 2013, at the US Open.

Edited by Musab Abid
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