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Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic

Type of connection
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Other connections of Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal
Other connections of Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic & Andy Murray
Roger Federer & Novak Djokovic
The rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic is the most prolific of the tennis Open Era. The two have faced each other 53 times with Djokovic leading 28-25. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history by players, coaches, and pundits, and was listed as the third greatest rivalry in the 2000s decade in 2009 by despite its only starting in 2006.

The first ever meeting between the two occurred at the 2006 French Open in the quarterfinals, where Nadal prevailed after Djokovic retired with an injury in the third set. This match initiated the rivalry, with Djokovic later commenting to the media that he understood what he needed to do to beat Nadal and claiming Nadal "was beatable on clay". Their first final appearance came at the 2007 Indian Wells Masters tournament, where Nadal won the event, and this was just the second time they had met on tour. Djokovic's first win was in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Miami Masters in their third meeting.

Between 2006-2010, this rivalry was often overshadowed by the historic Federer-Nadal rivalry. It started to become widely recognized after they played their first Grand Slam final against each other at the 2010 US Open. The first part of the rivalry was dominated by Nadal (who led 16-7 after the 2010 season) while the second part has been dominated by Djokovic, who leads 21-9 since 2011.

From March 2011 to April 2013, the pair contested eleven consecutive meetings in the championship match, the only duo to ever achieve such a feat in the open era. It was the first rivalry to involve meetings at all 4 Grand Slam finals (including four consecutive Grand Slam finals) and a record 27 Masters Series matches.

Some of their matches are considered to be classics and among the greatest matches of all time including the 2009 Madrid Masters semifinal, 2013 French Open semifinal and 2018 Wimbledon semifinal. Their 2012 Australian Open final has been lauded as the greatest match ever played by some long-time tennis pundits, analysts, and former players and legends of the sport. Mary Carillo and John McEnroe both commented that that Australian Open match and the 2013 French Open semifinal match were the two best matches played on hard and clay courts respectively. Each one has openly stated the other to be their greatest rival and motivator to play better tennis as evidenced by the streakiness in this rivalry.

Tags: rivalry, tennis - Add tags.

Nadal and Djokovic
Nadal and Djokovic