‘Facing Rafael Nadal on Court Philippe-Chatrier is greatest challenge,’ says Djokovic

'Facing Rafael Nadal on Court Philippe-Chatrier is greatest challenge,' says Djokovic

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been the players to beat in the top half at this year’s Roland Garros, scoring five victories each to set the semi-final clash. Rafa and Novak will face each other for the 58th time, extending the most decorated Open era rivalry that kicked off on Court Philippe-Chatrier 15 years ago!

Nadal led 6-4, 6-4 in the 2006 Roland Garros quarter-final when Djokovic was forced to retire, with another clash in Paris coming a year later, this time in the semis. Overall, Novak and Rafa have met eight times at the clay Major, with Nadal winning seven of those.

He defeated the Serb in straight sets after a grueling battle in 2007 and again a year later after almost three hours and a thriller in the third set. After four years, Nadal and Djokovic were the opponents at Roland Garros again in 2012 and 2013, staying on the court for eight and a half hours to finish nine sets and with Nadal prevailing in both to remain unbeaten against Djokovic in Paris.

In 2014, Rafa came from a set down to oust Novak after three and a half hours to claim the ninth Roland Garros trophy in the last ten years and write history books. In 2015, Novak finally bested Rafa at Court Philippe-Chatrier, beating him in the quarters in straight sets a year before claiming his first and only trophy in Paris.

Rafael Nadal has won seven out of eight encounters against Novak Djokovic in Paris.

Five years after their previous clash, Nadal and Djokovic met in the final last October, with the Spaniard earning a massive 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory to claim the 13th Roland Garros crown and the 20th Major.

Novak is aware that facing Rafael Nadal on Court Philippe-Chatrier is the greatest challenge in sport. Still, he is confident in his abilities, saying he will have a chance to stun the king of clay if he brings his best tennis.

“Playing Rafael Nadal on Court Philippe-Chatrier is the greatest challenge you can have, knowing his record here. There is nothing more remarkable in the Majors’ latter stages; there’s an extra tension and expectation.

The vibrations are different when you walk onto the court against Rafa; this is why our rivalry is historic. I have been privileged many times to have a chance to meet him, and I would probably choose Rafa as my biggest rival. Matches against him are like no others,” Novak Djokovic said.

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