Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced each other 57 times on tour, producing some of the greatest moments in the history of tennis. Djokovic marginally leads the head-to-head 29-28, and the duo might meet again in the semifinals at Roland Garros 2021.
Rafael Nadal, of course, has an overwhelming advantage in Paris, having won seven games out of eight against the Serb. When asked about the best and worst aspects about playing Djokovic, Nadal claimed that the rivalry brings out the best in him while also putting him at his most vulnerable.
"The best thing is, you know that you play your best tennis," Nadal said. "It's a big challenge. That's good because we're living the sport for these moments. The negative thing is, it's difficult because you're playing against one of the best players in history."
My numbers at Roland Garros are amazing but I can't think about that right now: Rafael Nadal
With his 6-3 , 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal has entered his 14th Roland Garros semifinal. The Spaniard has never lost after this stage of the tournament.
In fact, Nadal has just lost two matches in 16 years at Roland Garros; he has a 105-2 record overall. When asked if he ever sits back and looks at these numbers in wonderment, Nadal responded with his usual humility.
"Yeah of course. The numbers are just amazing, no? But I can't think about that now," Nadal said. "Let's talk about that when I finish my career. Now is the moment to be happy - I won an important match today against a tough opponent. I was able to find a way to play my best tennis in the moments that I needed. That's very important for me. Lots of confidence after that."
Such is Rafael Nadal's dominance at Roland Garros that many consider beating him there to be the toughest test in sporting history. But the man himself refused to talk in those terms, and claimed that there are many other athletes who have similarly great records in their respective fields.
"I am not the one to talk about myself," Nadal said. "I don't like [it]. I really don't think that I'm the person who can talk about myself this way at all. Of course, I have great numbers here in Roland Garros. But a lot of great sportspeople did amazing things in the world of sport, in history."
Rafael Nadal will face Novak Djokovic or Matteo Berrettini in the semifinals.