Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic head-to-head: All Roland Garros matches
As Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic set out on their quests to win a 23rd Grand Slam title at the forthcoming French Open, both men know they could face each other for the 11th time at Roland Garros.
Their head-to-head record at the French Open has two interesting facets to it. On one hand, it is dominated, as you would expect, by Rafael Nadal.
On the other hand, though, no player has beaten Nadal at Roland Garros more times than Novak Djokovic, and that is a significant achievement in itself.
Here is how their first 10 encounters turned out.
Nadal won 6-4 6-4 ret (1 hr 54 mins)
Djokovic felt he had been in control of his first Roland Garros encounter with Nadal until his opponent hit what the Serb called “two or three lucky shots” in what proved the decisive game of the opening set.
However, Djokovic then suffered a back injury early in the second set, at the end of which he retired. “I didn’t understand it,” Nadal said after the match. “Every time he served he put his hand on his back, but then he’d play a normal point.”
Nadal won 7-5 6-4 6-2 (2 hrs 28 mins)
Djokovic had taken advantage of a good draw to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final, but Nadal proved a totally different proposition to the Serb’s first five opponents, who were all ranked outside the world’s top 50.
The first set, which took 66 minutes, was competitive, but thereafter Nadal was unstoppable. Three months later Djokovic reached his first Grand Slam final, at the US Open, and by the following January had won his first Grand Slam title.
Nadal won 6-4 6-2 7-6(3) (2 hrs 49 mins)
Djokovic had started the year superbly, while Nadal had entered Roland Garros with fitness doubts, but the Spaniard was soon on top. Nadal said later that his tennis in the first two sets had been “almost perfect”.
It took Novak Djokovic an hour to earn his first break point and the Serb raised his arms in sarcastic celebration when he finally broke early in the third set. Rafael Nadal saved a set point in the third set but then won the first six points of the tie-break.
Nadal won 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5 (3 hrs 49 mins)
Djokovic was hoping to become the first man since 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles. With no roof over Court Philippe Chatrier, the final was called off for the day at 8pm on the Sunday because of rain, with Nadal leading 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2.
Djokovic had fought back impressively but the tide soon turned when they resumed on the following day. Nadal broke serve in the very first game and went on to claim what was then a record seventh Roland Garros title.
Nadal won 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7(3) 9-7 (4 hrs 37 mins)
Four months earlier there had been doubts as to whether Nadal would ever be the same again as he returned after seven months off because of knee problems. However, he came back better than ever, losing just two matches in his first nine comeback tournaments.
The semi-final featured several momentum shifts and came to a surprising end when Djokovic served at 7-8 as the Serb made four uncharacteristic mistakes and was broken to love.
Nadal won 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 (3 hrs 31 mins)
Djokovic had won his previous four matches against Nadal, including the clay-court final in Rome three weeks earlier. However, the Serb seemed to struggle physically at times in a match which saw both men make an unusual number of mistakes.
Having levelled at one set apiece, Nadal took charge with an immediate break of serve in the third set. Match point down at 4-5 in the fourth set, Djokovic served a double fault to hand Nadal victory.
Djokovic won 7-5 6-3 6-1 (2 hrs 26 mins)
At the seventh attempt Djokovic finally claimed a Roland Garros victory over his great rival, who had been struggling with injury, illness and a dip in form since the previous summer. Djokovic, who went on to complete his career collection of Grand Slam titles by winning the final, produced an emphatic victory that underlined how much he was now dominating men’s tennis.
His control grew as the match wore on, the last set taking just 34 minutes.
Nadal won 6-0 6-2 7-5 (2 hrs 41 mins)
Nadal drew level with Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles with a crushing victory over an opponent who had won 37 of his first 38 matches that year. There were only 1,000 spectators for the final, the capacity having been limited because of the pandemic.
Djokovic had been expected to benefit from the chillier autumn conditions, but Nadal took control from the start. Djokovic made 52 unforced errors in the match while Nadal made just 14.
Djokovic won 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2 (4 hrs 11 mins)
After losing the first five games Djokovic made a remarkable comeback in what he described as “the best match that I was part of ever in Roland Garros”. Nadal appeared to have turned the tide in a 93-minute third set when he fought back from 3-5 down to lead 6-5, but Djokovic played a superb tie-break.
Rafael Nadal fought back once more, breaking serve at the start of the fourth set, but Djokovic went on to seal victory by winning six games in a row.
Nadal won 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6(4) (4 hrs 12 mins)
After struggling with a fractured rib and a chronic foot problem, Nadal went into the French Open scrambling to find his best form. Nevertheless the Spaniard was soon on top against Djokovic and led by a set and 3-0 before his opponent found some rhythm.
With night matches now on the schedule, the match ended at 1.15am after an 88-minute fourth set. Djokovic saved three match points from 1-6 down in the tie-break before Nadal completed his win.
Read >> World’s best tennis magazine