Novak & Rafa: The Rivalry
by ATP Staff|
It was the first time they had met prior to the final of a major since the 2008 Roland Garros semi-finals, when Nadal won in straight sets.
Djokovic had won their previous meeting to break Nadal's eight-year reign at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. The Spaniard leads 20-15 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Nadal holds marks of 13-3 on clay and 2-1 on grass, while Djokovic leads 11-5 on hard courts.
Here is a history of the duo's 35 career meetings, beginning with their most recent encounter in the Roland Garros semi-finals on Friday, 7 June 2013.
2013 Roland Garros SF, Grand Slam, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 36 61 67(3) 97
Both players were competing for a shot at history. Djokovic was attempting to have a shot at winning his first Roland Garros crown, which would make him the eighth man in tennis history to complete the career Grand Slam. Nadal was going for an eighth title in Paris. Djokovic had dealt Nadal a harsh defeat in their previous meeting at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he ended the Spaniard’s 46-match winning streak at the event. Did it weigh on Nadal’s mind? The Spaniard was two points from victory when he led 6-5, 30/15 in the fourth set, but he tightened up and Djokovic fought back into contention. Nadal then came back from a 2-4 deficit in the drama-filled fifth set, which lasted 87 minutes, to give the match an enthralling finish. The semi-final last four hours and 37 minutes and kept alive Nadal’s 21-match winning streak. It was only the second five-set match Nadal had played at the major, with the first being a first-round win over John Isner in 2011.
2013 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Monte-Carlo, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 76(1)
Djokovic didn’t think he would compete at the tournament due to a foot injury. By the time he reached the final for the third time (also 2009, 2012), the World No. 1 was firing on all cylinders. Nadal, the eight-time defending champion, who was on a 46-match winning streak at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, had been equally as impressive. Their 34th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting had all the ingredients of a classic. Djokovic raced into a 5-0 lead, dropping just 12 points. When he converted his eighth set point to clinch the 48-minute opener, the crowd started to wonder if Nadal’s reign was about to end. In a high-quality second set, which included fourth breaks of serve, both players showed great mental strength. But it was Djokovic who remained cool in the tie-break to win his 14 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and 37th trophy overall. The one-hour and 52-minte victory also meant that Djokovic has become the first player to beat Nadal three times in a clay-court final. He also ended Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay in the month of April. His last loss on clay in April had come on 8 April 2005 to Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarter-finals.
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2012 Roland Garros Final, Grand Slam, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 63 26 75
The two were meeting for the fourth time at Roland Garros, with Nadal taking their previous three Paris clashes in straight sets. Djokovic was appearing in the final for the first time. In a final that was played over two days due to several rain delays, Nadal hit 34 winners to 29 unforced errors, and led two sets and a break before the Serbian rallied to win eight consecutive games en route to clinching his first set over Nadal at the tournament. He took a 2-1 break lead before play was suspended for the day on 10 June. When played resumed on Monday, Nadal broke back to level at 2-all and went on to wrap up the final victory in three hours and 49 minutes after Djokovic hit his fourth double fault to end the match. Djokovic was looking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam championship titles. Nadal improved to 3-0 against Djokovic on clay in 2012.
2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Rome, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 75 63
The pair contested the final at the Foro Italico for the third time, with Nadal coming out on top to avenge the defeat he had suffered at Djokovic’s hands a year earlier. With the final rained off on Sunday, it was below brighter skies on Monday that the pair took to court. Djokovic was under immediate pressure from Nadal. The Serb, who had beaten Roger Federer in the semi-finals, saved two break points in his opening service game before Nadal converted his fourth opportunity to lead 3-2. Djokovic immediately recovered the service break, but was broken by Nadal again in the 11th game, after a scintillating exchange at the net, and the Spaniard sealed the opener. Nadal was quick to capitalise on his momentum, taking advantage of an increased unforced error count by Djokovic and dominating from the baseline as he broke in the first game of the second set. Djokovic squandered four break back points in the following game, and another in the fourth game, before surrendering the match in the ninth game after two hours and 20 minutes with his fourth double fault.
2012 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Monte-Carlo, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 63 61
Second-ranked Rafael Nadal ended a seven-match losing streak to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, dropping just four games to win his eighth straight title in Monte-Carlo. The Spaniard converted five breaks and won 85 per cent of his first serve points to seal the final victory in 79 minutes. He did not drop a set during the tournament.
2012 Australian Open Final, Grand Slam, Melbourne, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 57 64 62 67(5) 75
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to seven straight matches over No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal in the longest Grand Slam championship final on record over five hours and 53 minutes. It surpassed the previous record of four hours and 54 minutes when Mats Wilander defeated Ivan Lendl at the 1988 US Open. In a pulsating contest on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Djokovic rallied from a 2-4 deficit in the fifth set, to fight back and claim a dramatic victory. He continued to narrow the gap in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with the Spaniard to 14-16. Nadal had never previously lost a Grand Slam final after winning the first set.
2011 US Open Final, Grand Slam, New York, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 64 67(3) 61
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic claimed his third Grand Slam title of the season and his first at the US Open when he defeated defending champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1 in a rematch of the 2010 final. With the victory, Djokovic improved to a 6-0 mark against the Spaniard in finals this season. The pair showed what was in store for the final, with their hard-hitting rallies averaging 10 strokes in the opening game. In both the first two sets Nadal led by a break of serve, and both times Djokovic came roaring back, putting Nadal under constant pressure with his retrieval skills on the baseline and his clever use of the angles, drawing the errors from the Spaniard’s racquet. Ten-time major champion Nadal showed his mettle in the third set, winning it in a tie-break after Djokovic had served for the match at 6-5. However, the Spaniard could not maintain his high level and with both men tiring in the intense contest, it was Nadal whose resistance broke down first and Djokovic broke serve twice to claim victory in four hours and nine minutes. The 24 year old became the sixth man in the Open Era to win three major titles in the same season.
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2011 Wimbledon Final, Grand Slam, London, grass, Djokovic d. Nadal 64 61 16 63
The current World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 titlist, met the soon-to-be No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. For two sets, Djokovic was superb hitting 22 winners past Nadal, who was unable to hit top form in lengthy baseline rallies. But Nadal hasn't won 20 straight matches at the All England Club for nothing. The top seed battled back to win the third set to raise hopes of a first two-sets-to-love comeback in a Wimbledon final since 1927, when Henri Cochet defeated Bill Tilden. Both players exchanged breaks of serve at the start of the fourth set, before Djokovic regained control to complete a 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victory in two hours and 28 minutes of play to lift his third Grand Slam championship title. It capped a dream fortnight for the Serbian, who will become No. 1 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings on 4 July.
2011 Internazionali BNL d'Italia Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Rome, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 64 64
One day after a thrilling semi-final win over Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic defeated defending champion Rafael Nadal for a second consecutive Sunday in a clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. The Serbian broke the World No. 1 four times - including the final games of the first and second sets - to become just the second player (Davydenko) to record four straight victories against the Spaniard. He also became the first player to win four Masters 1000 titles in one season since Nadal and Roger Federer claimed four apiece in 2005. On Saturday evening, Djokovic had come within two points of defeat before rallying to defeat Murray in a third-set tie-break. His streak of 39 successive tour-level victories following the Rome final was the sixth-longest winning streak in the Open Era.
2011 Mutua Madrid Open Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Madrid, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 75 64
Novak Djokovic notched his 34th consecutive victory as he brought to an end Rafael Nadal’s 37-match unbeaten run on clay by beating the defending champion 7-5, 6-4 in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open. Despite never having beaten Nadal on clay in nine previous attempts, Djokovic raced out to a 4-0 lead in the Masters 1000 final. Nadal fought back and broke the Serbian to bring himself back level in the ninth game, but Djokovic claimed the opening set three games later. After recovering a service break early in the second set, Djokovic broke Nadal again in the final game to seal victory in two hours and 17 minutes. “Under the circumstances, I’ve played probably the best match of my life on clay against the World No. 1 and the player to beat on this surface,” declared Djokovic.