Top ten Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal matches
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have developed a fierce rivalry over the years. Join us for a look at the top ten greatest matches between two of the world’s best.
Nadal vs. Djokovic is the most competed match in men’s tennis history, with the pair facing each other a record 58 times. The duo are extremely well-matched with only two victories separating them.
Current World number one Djokovic has beaten Nadal 30 times but the Spaniard has bettered Djokovic 28 times. Although, the Spanish great is superior on clay as he leads Djokovic 19-7 on red dirt.
Djokovic is also the only player to date to have beaten Nadal in all four majors.
2009 Madrid Masters semi-finals – Nadal won 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (11-9)
Near the start of the duo’s rivalry, Nadal overcame Djokovic in what is viewed as one of the best clay-court matches of all time.
Whilst Djokovic took the first set 6-3, Nadal won the following two sets via lengthy and hard-fought tie-breaks.
Nadal would eventually go on to lose in straight sets to fellow great Roger Federer in the final.
2010 US Open final – Nadal won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
2010 was arguably the best season of Nadal’s career as he won three of the four Grand Slam titles, winning the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Before the 2010 final, Nadal had won every Grand Slam except the US Open but entered the tournament as the favourite to win. Nadal didn’t drop a single set en route to the final and Djokovic was the final obstacle in the Spaniards way.
After an even start left them with one set apiece, Nadal won the remaining two sets and stormed to his first US Open title.
2011 Miami Masters final – Djokovic won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
Both Djokovic and Nadal had reached their third Miami Masters final, with Nadal beating Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals.
As the tournament’s two top seeds faced each other, Nadal began the strongest when he won the first set 6-4, but Djokovic took the second 6-3. Neither backed down in the final deciding set and forced a tie-break which Djokovic won 7-4.
Djokovic’s win saw him complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ after beating Nadal in the Indian Wells Masters final just a week prior. This victory also extended Djokovic’s unbeaten start of the 2011 season to 24-0.
2011 Wimbledon final – Djokovic won 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
Djokovic and Nadal faced each other in six finals in 2011, but the most memorable occasion was in the Wimbledon final. Both overcame tough semi-final matches as reigning champion Nadal beat Andy Murray, whilst Djokovic bettered Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
In the final, Djokovic stormed into a commanding lead after winning the first two sets but Nadal fought back to claim the third.
Ultimately, Djokovic would prove to be too strong for Nadal as he won the last set to claim a first Wimbledon title and become the new World number one.
2012 Australian Open Final – Djokovic won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5
At the 2012 Australian Open, the top two players in the world at the time battled through a hard-fought and hotly-contested marathon of a final.
Djokovic and Nadal pushed each other to the best of their physical capabilities in an encounter largely dubbed as the best Slam final ever. In a match that ebbed and flowed, Djokovic won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5.
This saw the Serbian extend his winning streak over Nadal to seven matches, with it also being the third Grand Slam final in a row where Djokovic had triumphed over Nadal.
The memorable meeting lasted a record five hours and 53 minutes and became the longest Grand Slam final ever, surpassing the previous record set at the 1988 US Open final between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl.
Wilander defeated defending champion Lendl 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in a match that lasted four hours and 54 minutes, an hour less than Djokovic and Nadal’s historic final.
2012 French Open final – Nadal won 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5
Whilst Nadal eased into the final without dropping a single set, Djokovic had a tougher route as he beat Tsonga in a five set quarter-final thriller before beating Federer in three straight sets in the semi-finals.
After rain delays saw the final spread out over two days, Nadal led by two sets before Djokovic won eight consecutive games to draw it back to two sets to one before rain caused another break.
When play resumed, Djokovic’s momentum was halted and Nadal regrouped to take the fourth set in convincing fashion in a match that lasted three hours and 49 minutes.
2013 French Open semi-finals – Nadal won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 9-7
Nadal and Djokovic battled it out in a five set thriller in the semi-finals of the French Open. Nadal was just two points away from clinching victory at 6-5 in the fourth set but Djokovic fought back to take the match into a deciding set.
Djokovic was spurred on by his hunt for the elusive French Open crown and had previously beaten Nadal on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters that year. The deciding set lasted 87 minutes as Nadal fought back from 2-4 down to win 9-7.
Nadal went on to beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the final to claim a record-extending eighth Roland Garros and a 12th major title overall.
2014 French Open Final – Nadal won 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4
Nadal once again asserted his dominance on Roland Garros’ clay-courts as he beat Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 to become the first player to win nine Grand Slam titles and claim a record-equalling 14th major title, going level with American legend Pete Sampras.
This win also saw Nadal retain the World number one position and put an end to Djokovic’s four match winning streak against him.
Djokovic had started strongly by taking the first set 6-3, but Nadal came back to win the remaining three sets in the 27 degree Parisian heat.
2015 French Open quarter-final – Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3, 6-1
Whilst not the most competitive match on this list, the 2015 French Open quarter-final saw Djokovic become just the second player ever to defeat Nadal on Roland Garros’ clay-courts since Robin Soderling in 2009.
Djokovic beat Nadal in straight sets and went on to beat Andy Murray in a five set thriller in the semi-finals. The Serbian would eventually go on to lose to Stan Wawrinka in the final.
2018 Wimbledon semi-finals – Djokovic won 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 10-8
The pair endured another marathon in the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finals when the Serb beat Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 10-8 in a match that spanned five hours and 15 minutes.
The match was the second-longest men’s semi-final in Wimbledon history, but despite the five hour plus run-time it wasn’t even the longest at that year’s tournament. Kevin Anderson beat John Isner in a six hour and 36 minute epic in the other semi-final.
Djokovic went on to beat Anderson in the final to win a fourth Wimbledon trophy.
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