Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal met for a record 58th time in their ATP Head2Head series on Friday in the Roland Garros semi-finals. Djokovic trailed his great rival 1-7 on the Parisian clay, but he found his best tennis to defeat Nadal in a memorable four-setter to reach the championship match.
The Serbian’s lead in their legendary ATP Head2Head rivalry now stands at 30-28.
ATPTour.com breaks down a history of the duo’s 58 career matches:
2021 Roland Garros SF, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2
Djokovic admitted before this clash that facing Nadal at Roland Garros is “not like any other match”. The Serbian knew the 13-time champion was 105-2 at this tournament and that beating him would take an incredible effort. And that is exactly what the World No. 1 delivered in front of a raucous crowd inside Court Philippe-Chatrier, creating the most electric atmosphere since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Djokovic did not panic when he fell behind 0-5 in the first set, which seemed like a mirror image of when Nadal won the opener 6-0 in last year’s Paris final. This time, Djokovic settled down and battled back to win three games in the first set to dig into the match. He then methodically played with aggression to the Spaniard’s forehand corner, pinning him there to prevent the lefty from taking the initiative with his biggest weapon. The World No. 1 let slip an opportunity to serve out the third set, and faced a set point two games later. But Djokovic hit a daring backhand drop shot to escape that game, and played a nearly flawless tie-break to take a two-sets-to-one lead. Nadal showed his typical grit to take a 2-0 lead and make a push to force a decider, but the 34-year-old won the final six games of the match to earn one of the biggest victories of his career.
“[It was] just one of these nights and matches that you will remember forever,” Djokovic said.
<img src="https://ehtbqwbeoo2.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/djokovic-v-nadal-the-complete-rivalry.jpg" alt="Novak Djokovic“>
2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Final, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 7-5, 1-6, 6-3
Sixteen years on from beating Guillermo Coria over five sets for the 2005 Rome title, Nadal captured his 10th crown in the Eternal City with a disciplined performance over two hours and 49 minutes. Despite multiple momentum shifts in the championship clash, Nadal has now won 102 straight clay-court matches after winning the first set.
In a closely fought first set, Nadal recovered from 0-2 down and took his chance at 5-5, with a forehand winner down the line. With a dip in Nadal’s intensity, noticeably his groundstroke length, Djokovic reeled off five straight games from 1-1 in the second set. Having saved two break points at 2-2 in the decider, Nadal claimed 12 of the next 13 points to seize control of the final.
Nadal, who has now won 62 of his 88 career titles on clay, struck 26 of his 37 winners off his forehand wing. Read Match Report
2020 Roland Garros Final, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5
Djokovic won the Internazionali BNL d’Italia leading into Roland Garros, and when he reached the Paris final, the Serbian had a 37-1 record on the 2020 season. But that mattered little to Nadal, who played an extraordinary match to defeat the top seed in two hours and 41 minutes. Nadal had not beaten Djokovic in straight sets at a Grand Slam since the 2008 Roland Garros semi-finals, and this was the Spaniard’s most lopsided win at a major in their rivalry.
Nadal deserves credit for his relentless offence from the baseline. Not only did the lefty crush 31 winners in the match, but he only made 14 unforced errors. The more you go for it, the more often you typically miss. But on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the Spaniard barely missed at all.
Djokovic was trying to win his 18th Grand Slam title and his second trophy at Roland Garros. He could have become the first man in the Open Era to complete two Career Grand Slams, but 52 unforced errors were his undoing. Read Match Report
2020 ATP Cup Final, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 6-2, 7-6(4)
Entering the inaugural ATP Cup final, Djokovic had won 17 consecutive sets on hard courts against his Spanish rival. The Serbian continued that trend inside Ken Rosewall Arena in front of a raucous crowd, getting off to a quick start and never looking back against the World No. 1.
This match was critical for not only Djokovic, but also for his country. When the World No. 2 and Nadal walked on the court, Spain held a 1-0 lead in the tie. But Djokovic was up for the task, winning all but four service points in the opener to storm through the first set in 39 minutes.
The second set lasted nearly twice as long (76 minutes), as Nadal ramped up the aggression to put the pressure on Djokovic. The Spaniard serve-and-volleyed 10 times, winning eight of those points, after employing the tactic just once in the first set. But Djokovic completed his undefeated singles run at the ATP Cup by remaining calm in the second-set tie-break, winning his sixth match from six tries in Brisbane and Sydney combined.
2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Final, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1
Nadal entered his 50th Masters 1000 final pursuing his first trophy of any kind in 2019. The Spaniard had not taken that long to win a title since 2004, the year he claimed his first tour-level victory.
But Nadal would not be denied against Djokovic, the top seed. Although the Serbian saved all four break points he faced in the second set to force a decider, Nadal earned 17 break points in the match, and that proved the difference. Nadal won a higher rate of his second-serve points (61%) than Djokovic did his first-serve points (60%), helping him earn a title for the 16th consecutive year.
Djokovic spent two hours and 12 minutes of more time on court than Nadal entering the final, and that showed in his slow start as well as in the third set. The Serbian used his drop shot well throughout the week, but lost many of those points against Nadal with the trophy on the line, and the Spaniard showed no hesitation from the baseline, especially with his forehand down the line.
2019 Australian Open Final, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
In an eagerly anticipated match-up, a repeat of their 2012 final in Melbourne Park, Djokovic started with a bang to win the first three games. Nadal, with his refined service motion and potent forehand, was unable to create an opening and through two sets Djokovic had lost just six of his service points and committed four unforced errors. Nadal continued to fight and created his lone break point at 2-3, 30/40 in the third set, but Djokovic was in irresistible form and put together one of the best performances of his career.
In capturing his 15th Grand Slam championship crown, the 73rd tour-level trophy of his career, the Serbian broke a tie with Pete Sampras (14). It was also a record-breaking seventh trophy at the Australian Open, moving past Roy Emerson and Roger Federer. Read Match Report
2018 Wimbledon SF, grass, Djokovic d. Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-8
It was clear that Djokovic had climbed closer to his best form ahead of the pair’s semi-final at The Championships, hanging tough against Nadal in Rome, reaching the Roland Garros quarter-finals and finishing runner-up at The Queen’s Club. But could the Serbian overcome the greatest challenge of his comeback from a right elbow injury against World No. 1 Nadal, who was 35-2 on the season?
It turned out that the great rivals were evenly matched, with Djokovic saving five break points in a thrilling fifth set before triumphing after five hours and 15 minutes. And fittingly, they both hit 73 winners to just 42 unforced errors in the classic.
Djokovic earned his first Grand Slam semi-final win against Nadal to reach his fifth Wimbledon final, claiming the signature victory of his comeback to advance to his first major championship match since the 2016 US Open. Nadal had won 16 consecutive matches in the last four at Slams, but he bowed out after making his deepest run at the All England Club since 2011, when he lost in the final.
2018 Internazionali BNL d’Italia SF, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 7-6(4), 63
Entering the pair’s first meeting in more than a year, Nadal was the clear favourite. The top seed had won 50 consecutive sets on clay — a record for the most sets claimed in a row on a single surface — before falling in the Madrid quarter-finals the previous week. And it was tough to tell how high Djokovic, still recovering from a right elbow injury, would be able to raise his level.
But the Serbian played excellent tennis, especially in the first set, comfortably finding the sharpest of angles from the backhand corner to give Nadal fits. But toward the end of the opening set, the Spaniard began to unleash his forehand down the line, therefore changing court positioning and taking control of baseline rallies, leading to his eventual victory.
It was an important win for Nadal, earning his 356th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match victory to break a tie with Roger Federer (355) for the most in history. The 31-year-old also moved within one triumph of reclaiming the No. 1 spot in the ATP Rankings after dropping to No. 2 with his loss in Madrid. The triumph not only showed Nadal’s great form, but also that Djokovic, despite competing in just his first semi-final of 2018, is on his way back to his top level.
2017 Mutua Madrid Open SF, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 6-2, 6-4
During their historic 50th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, Nadal decidedly turned the tables on Djokovic, thoroughly outplaying the defending champion to reach his eighth Mutua Madrid Open final. Djokovic had owned their rivalry during recent years. The Serbian had won 15 consecutive sets and seven straight matches against Nadal.
It had been nearly three years since the “King of Clay” had prevailed against Djokovic – the 2014 Roland Garros final. But Nadal dominated from the start during their 50th meeting in Madrid, aggressively smashing forehands and confidently hitting backhand winners. Djokovic would make it a match in the second set but Nadal served out the final after one hour and 38 minutes.
The win further solidified Nadal’s place in history as the greatest clay-court player and showed the tennis world that the Spaniard is back in top form. He improved to 14-0 in clay-court matches this season and will play for his third clay-court crown of the year, after winning a record 10th title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell earlier this season.
2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia QF, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 75 76(4)
In their closest contest for almost two years, Djokovic rallied from a break down in both sets to thwart an in-form and enthusiastic Nadal. The Serb extended his recent mastery over the Spaniard to move into the Rome semi-finals for the 10th consecutive year. Djokovic has now won the past seven matches and 15 sets against Nadal.
The World No. 1 leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 26-23. He also moved within two matches of winning his 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
2016 BNP Paribas Open SF, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 76(5) 62
Djokovic earned the opportunity to play for an unprecedented fifth BNP Paribas Open title after edging Nadal in the semi-finals at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. In the pair’s 48th meeting – an Open Era record on the ATP World Tour – the Serb claimed his sixth straight win over Nadal and has won 13 consecutive sets against the Spaniard.
Djokovic would go on to win the BNP Paribas Open final and join Nadal with a record 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. The World No. 1 has won seven of the past 10 Masters 1000 events. Despite the loss, however, Nadal said he gained confidence from playing Djokovic better than he has in their recent matches.
2016 Qatar ExxonMobil Open F, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 61 62
Djokovic made sure the lone blip in his jaw-dropping 2015 campaign – a Doha quarter-final defeat to Ivo Karlovic – was a distant memory. The World No. 1 captured his sixth consecutive ATP World Tour title and 60th overall at the tour-level. He became just the 10th player in the Open Era to reach the 60-title milestone, drawing level with Andre Agassi in a tie for ninth.
After streaking to a 6-1 first set after just 31 minutes, Djokovic continued to apply pressure on Nadal, suffocating the Spaniard from the baseline with a ruthless display of aggression. He converted his third break point in the opening game of the second set and secured another break to all but seal the match at 4-1. He would wrap up the match after 73 minutes, striking a total 30 winners to just 13 unforced errors.
The Serb leads the historic FedEx ATP Head2Head for the first time at 24-23. He has now claimed 11 consecutive sets since Nadal prevailed in the 2014 Roland Garros final.
2015 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals SF, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 63
Djokovic turned in a comprehensive performance in reaching a fourth consecutive final at The O2 in London, advancing to an 85th tour-level title match.
Djokovic was on the attack immediately against Nadal’s own serve, pouncing on a short second serve for a return winner in the very first point and breaking to love for a quick 2-0 lead. The Belgrade native struck 12 winners and just one unforced error through the first three games. He was in control at the baseline, dictating play on his own terms and most importantly refusing to yield an inch on his own serve.
Patterns persisted in the second set, with Djokovic using his agility to stand tall on the baseline and he would break for 3-2 after a 25-shot rally. The Serb launched a backhand winner down-the-line on the run to give him his first match point at 5-3 and he would capitalise with another backhand winner – this time going cross-court.
With his consecutive finals reached streak up to 15 tournaments, Djokovic became the first player to claim 30 match wins against Top 10 opponents in a single season.
2015 China Open F, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 62
Djokovic extended his run of dominance in Beijing to 29-0 with a gritty victory over Nadal in the final. It was the Serb’s seventh win over Nadal in their last eight meetings, a run that began at the 2013 China Open final. The World No. 1, who had already clinched the year-end top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings, improved to a stunning 68-5 in 2015 and 23-4 against Top 10 opponents.
Djokovic would get off to a flying start in his quest for a sixth Beijing title, breaking immediately in the first game and again for 5-2 after turning aside a pair of break chances in the sixth game. Nadal would receive a visit from the trainer for an apparent leg ailment midway through the third game of the second set and Djokovic would pounce, breaking for 2-1. He did not look back, surging to the title after 91 minutes. The top seed struck 23 winners, including seven aces.
“This has definitely been my most successful tournament,” said Djokovic during the trophy ceremony. “Beijing has been a lucky place for me. In 2008, I remember the Olympic Games when Rafa won gold and the tradition of Asian tennis started here. I played a great tournament overall and continued playing well today. Rafa and I have played 45 times and I hope that continues.”
2015 Roland Garros QF, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 75 63 61
On his seventh attempt, Djokovic finally dethroned nine-time champion Nadal on the red clay of Roland Garros, handing the Spaniard just his second loss in Paris and maintaining his hopes of completing the career Grand Slam.
In one of the most highly anticipated Grand Slam quarter-finals in history, Djokovic raced to a 4-love lead in the first set before sixth-seeded Nadal battled back to level the match. Despite the momentum shift, the Serb would find his footing to claim the first set in 67 minutes.
Djokovic was dominant on his serve in the second set, claiming 16 of 18 straight service points, before eventually taking a two-set lead. He carried that momentum into the final set, limiting Nadal to just three total forehand winners and claiming victory in two hours and 26 minutes.
2015 Monte-Carlo SF, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 63
Djokovic reached his fourth Monte-Carlo by denying Rafael Nadal once again at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. Their 43rd meeting with a tale of the seventh game. Djokovic is now riding a 16-match winning streak and is on course to capture four straight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles.
Nadal took a 2-0 lead at the start of the match, as Djokovic – the form player of 2015 – was tested, but regrouped to win three straight games. In an 11-minute seventh game, which saw Djokovic save one break, his greater weight of shots eventually over-stretched Nadal. Djokovic broke for a 5-3 lead, but Nadal battled throughout the 43-minute opener.
Djokovic playing on, or inside, the baseline, withstood a stern examination of his backhand, to create two break point chances in the opening game but he could not make a breakthrough. Nadal led 40/0 it 3-3, but was left to rue two forehand errors and a double fault as Djokovic went on to claim the 19-point game. Djokovic earned his 29th match win of the season with a backhand winner into space.
2014 Roland Garros, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 36 75 62 64
Nadal prevented Djokovic from completing a career Grand Slam, as he retained his No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking and became the first player in history to win nine titles at a major. He also drew level with Pete Sampras at No. 2 in the Grand Slam title-leaders list on 14 major crowns.
The Spaniard had lost eight of his past nine sets against Djokovic entering the Roland Garros final, and once again fell behind to start the match as Djokovic broke in the eighth game and survived a pair of break points. Though the winner of the first set had gone on to triumph nine times in their 11 previous Grand Slam meetings, a free-swinging Nadal drew level at a set apiece with a break and quickly raced out to a 3-0 lead in the third. The Serbian found renewed energy in the fourth set, recovering a break in the seventh game, but was unable to hold serve to stay in the match as he double-faulted on championship point.
2014 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Final, Rome, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 46 63 63
Djokovic pulled closer to Nadal in the battle for No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings by claiming his third Rome title and 19th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. It was the Serb’s second triumph over his rival in a Rome final, having prevailed in the 2011 title match.
Nadal entered their 41st encounter having spent over 10 hours on court through the semi-finals, but the seven-time champion showed no signs of fatigue in the early stages. He would surge to a double-break lead in the first set behind a ferocious offensive onslaught, and held on to take the opener in 46 minutes. In their previous 10 meetings, the player who had won the first set went on to win the match. Djokovic was ready to buck the trend, finding his range and rhythm in the second and third sets and turning the tables with a tenacious attacking display. He would hold Nadal to winning under 28 per cent of second serve points won for the rest of the match, firing return winners with ease and standing tall on the baseline. Djokovic’s 46 winners (including 15 from the backhand side) and six aces were too much for Nadal to overcome.