Rafael Nadal Roland Garros 2021

‘Playing Rafael Nadal is not like any other match,’ says Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic says playing Rafael Nadal is ‘not like any other match’ as he booked a French Open semi-final against the Spaniard.

Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 on Wednesday night in a high quality match.

That put him on a collision course with Nadal, and he knows exactly what to expect.

Asked about his upcoming clash with Nadal, Djokovic said: “It’s not like any other match,” Djokovic said.

“Let’s face it, it’s the biggest challenge that you can have: playing on clay against Nadal, on this court on which he has had so much success in his career, in the final stages of a Grand Slam. It doesn’t get bigger than that.

“Of course, each time we face each other, there’s that extra tension and expectations. [The] vibes are different walking on the court with him.

“But that’s why our rivalry has been historic, I think, for this sport. I’ve been privileged to play him so many times.

“[My] rivalries with him and Roger [Federer] have made me a stronger player, allowed me to understand how I need to improve my game to get to the level where they were when I started playing professional tennis.

“I’ll probably pick Rafa as the biggest rival I’ve ever had in my career.

“The anticipation for the match against him — any match, any surface, any occasion — is always different from any other.”

Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.