It is the most prolific duel in the history of tennis: 58 confrontations, 29 victories for Novak Djokovic, 28 for Rafael Nadal, who face each other this Friday at Roland Garros. A semi-final which could also be decisive for the Grand Slam title record.
Thursday May 27, 4:45 p.m. The draw delivered its verdict, the two favorites Novak Djokovic (world No. 1) and Rafael Nadal (No. 3) are in the same part of the table. Friday, June 11 is noted, expected, hoped, to review this duel again and again, this time in the semi-final of Roland-Garros.
“I hope I will be able to play at a higher level than that of the first two sets of last year in particular”
“It excites me like never before, ecstasies Arnaud Di Pasquale former Director of national tennis. I love these rivalries and I remain convinced that when there will be no more all that, we will say ‘yes but before there was these rivalries were better ‘. I find it extraordinary what they are doing. I admire so much, I never tire of it, I will never tire of it! ”
This semi-final is a remake of the 2020 final. A match in special conditions, in October in the cold, under the roof … while nearly 30 degrees are announced this Friday. “Last year he dominated the final against me. Obviously conditions will be different on Friday than they were in the final last year,” explains Novak Djokovic. I hope I can play at a level higher than that of the first two sets of last year in particular. ” Because the Spaniard had won his 13th Roland Garros, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
Nadal at Roland-Garros: 107 games, 105 victories
Beating Rafael Nadal on the Philippe Chatrier court, “it’s the biggest challenge you can have on clay,” said the Serbian. 107 matches for the Mallorcan Porte d’Auteuil, 105 victories, two defeats: Robin Söderling in 2009 and his opponent of the day Novak Djokovic in 2015. “You have to play in the best of your form, the best tennis,” explains Rafael Nadal after his victory against Schwartzman. You know what you have to do, if you have to have a chance to win. It’s a big challenge. We train, we do this sport to live these moments. ”
The two men command admiration. 35 years for Nadal, 34 for Djokovic. They have just won 14 of the last 20 Grand Slam tournaments. Djokovic broke the record for weeks spent as world number 1, 324 weeks at the top of world tennis. Rafael Nadal won him 38 of the last 39 sets at Roland Garros. They have the record for Masters 1000 titles, 36 each. They command the admiration of other players. “Novak and Rafa, they are the best and for a long time, explains Nicolas Mahut. I am convinced that they will make a match of Martians. It is exceptional what they do, (…) it is so incredible to being with them, I’ve practically spent my entire career with them. I think it’s extraordinary. You just have to savor it. “
A decisive duel in the race for the record of Grand Slam titles?
Pierre-Hugues Herbert, his doubles partner, responds with a smile: “They taunt us anyway. They ridicule us a bit. In each tournament, they manage to win them each time. No, it’s quite annoying. When you participate every time, you want to hope at some point that things change and that in the end it’s always the same ones who win. They are just impressive. They manage to turn around situations that seem extremely complicated. They are really over the top. ”
A 58th duel that could be decisive for the race for Grand Slam title records. Nadal and Federer peak at 20 coronations, Djokovic, with 18 titles, could come a long way. Even if for one or the other it will be necessary to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alexander Zverev on Sunday in the final.
Djokovic-Nadal is scheduled for the second rotation in front of 5,000 spectators just after the first Zverev-Tsitsipas semi-final, which starts at 3 p.m. Hoping that this 58th confrontation ends before the curfew. There are precedents of marathons between the Spaniard and the Serbian. In 2013, Nadal won at Roland-Garros 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 in 4:37; at Wimbledon in the 2018 semi-final, the Serbian won in 5:14; in the final of the 2012 Australian Open, their duel lasted 5:53 in the final and Djokovic won the title.