The Djokovic–Nadal rivalry is between tennis players Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who are engaged in a modern-day tennis rivalry. It is considered to be one of the greatest rivalries in history and is ranked first in the Open Era in terms of matches played  with Nadal leading 22 to 17 in match wins. Between 2006–2010, this rivalry was often overshadowed by the historic Federer–Nadal rivalry, but it started to become widely recognized after they played their first Grand Slam final against each other at the 2010 US Open. It is the only rivalry to take place in all 4 Grand Slam finals (including consecutive Grand Slam finals) and a record 20 Masters Series matches. Their 2012 Australian Open final was widely considered to rank among the greatest matches of all time, and Mary Carillo and John McEnroe both commented that that Australian Open match and the 2013 French Open semi-final match were the two best matches played on hard and clay courts respectively. The Djokovic–Nadal rivalry is listed as the third greatest rivalry in the last decade by ATPworldtour.com.
The first ever meeting between the two occurred at the 2006 French Open in the quarterfinals, where Nadal prevailed after Djokovic was forced to retire with an injury in the third set. It was really that match that initiated the rivalry when Djokovic spoke to the media after the match claiming that he understood what he needed to do to beat Nadal and said Nadal "was beatable on clay". Since then, Djokovic has been the only player that has a chance at defeating a healthy Nadal on a clay surface and is responsible for more than half of the Spaniard's losses on clay. Their first final appearance came at the 2007 Indian Wells Masters tournament, where Nadal won the event, this was just the second time they met on the ATP Tour. Djokovic's first win was in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Miami Masters in their third meeting. From March 2011 to April 2013, the pair contested eleven consecutive meetings in the championship match. At present, they are the top two players in the world, having previously reigned between February 2011 and July 2012.
Some of their matches are considered to be classics and among the greatest matches of all time including the 2009 Madrid Masters Semifinal and 2013 French Open semi-final. The 2012 Australian Open final is lauded as the greatest match ever played by long-time tennis pundits, analysts, and former players and legends of the sport. Each one has openly stated the other to be their greatest rival and motivator to play better tennis as evidenced by the streakiness in this rivalry. This is the most played rivalry in the history of the Open Era and is considered to be the greatest rivalry ever by players, coaches, and pundits.
- 1 History
- 2 Famous Matches
- 3 Analysis
- 4 List of all matches
- 5 Records
- 6 Exhibition matches
- 7 Career evolution
- 8 Performance timeline comparison (Grand Slam tournaments)
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The first meeting between the two, which was the only one for this year, was at the French Open (Roland Garros) in the Quarterfinals. The victory went to Nadal in this match via a retirement from Djokovic after Nadal took the first two sets in fours in a matter of 114 minutes.
In 2007, the pair met seven times, Nadal winning five of them.
The first encounter took place at the finals of the Indian Wells Masters. This was Djokovic's first Masters 1000 final whereas Nadal was bidding for his 6th. Nadal won the match easily, in a matter of 94 minutes. Djokovic however got his revenge the following week, defeating Nadal for the first time in the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters in just 97 minutes.
The pair met twice during the summer clay-court season, Nadal continuing his dominance on clay. He defeated Djokovic en route to the title in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters and went on to do the same on his way to a third Grand Slam title, at the French Open a month later. Nadal defeated Djokovic, who was playing his first Grand Slam semi-final. They then met for the first time on grass, in the semi-finals of Wimbledon. After having split the first two sets, Djokovic was forced to concede the match to Nadal on a retirement.
Djokovic and Nadal met six times in 2008, Nadal improving his career advantage against Djokovic to 10–4, winning four of their encounters.
Nadal defeated Djokovic in the semis of the Hamburg Masters. In their third consecutive meeting at the French Open semi-finals, a dominant Nadal defeated Djokovic in the semis, going on to win his fourth consecutive French Open title.
The sixth and final battle of the year came at the Beijing Olympics in the semi-finals, Nadal winning the match. He would go on to win the gold medal.
They met seven times in 2009. Nadal won the first four of their encounters, Djokovic going on to win the last three.
The pair met several times during on clay and matches involving them became the highlights of the clay-court season. They met for the first time in a clay-court final at the Monte Carlo Masters, Nadal winning a closely contested three-setter and his 5th consecutive title at the event. With the no. 3 ranking at risk, Djokovic had to defend his title at the Rome Masters to avoid dropping to No. 4 in the world. He successfully made it to the final, but lost to Nadal in straight sets.
They then met for a third consecutive tournament on clay, in the semis of the Madrid Masters. Nadal won a gruelling encounter by saving three match points in the process. The match, at 4 hours and 3 minutes, was the longest three-set singles match on the ATP World Tour in the Open Era (later surpassed by the Olympic semifinal between Federer and Del Potro in 2012, which did not have a tiebreak in the third set). The match was voted the best match of the year by fans and critics alike. Djokovic admitted afterwards that it took him a long time to get over this loss.
During the US Open series, Djokovic defeated Nadal for the first time that year at the Cincinnati Masters in 92 minutes. Djokovic then won his first Masters 1000 title of the year, crushing Nadal in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Paris. The pair then had their final meeting of the year, at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Djokovic won the match, going 2–1 in the round robin phase.
They met only twice in 2010, and Nadal won both encounters.
Djokovic and Nadal faced off for the first time in a Grand Slam final at the US Open. Nadal won the match in four sets, thus becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to complete a Career Grand Slam. This match took 3 hours and 43 minutes to get finished.
The pair met 6 times, all in finals, with Djokovic winning all six encounters, including two Grand Slam finals.
Coming into their first encounter of the year at the Indian Wells Masters, Djokovic had not lost a match the entire year, and continued his fine form by beating Nadal to win his second Indian Wells title.
Djokovic and Nadal clashed twice during the clay-court spring. In the final of the Madrid Masters, Djokovic scored his first ever victory over Nadal on clay, in straight sets. He managed the same feat at the Rome Masters, defeating Nadal in straight sets.
Djokovic and Nadal met in a final for the fifth time in the year at Wimbledon, arguably their biggest encounter of the year. In a 2 hour 28 minute contest, Djokovic overcame Nadal in four sets, winning his first Wimbledon title.
They met for a second consecutive final at the US Open, a rematch of the final from the previous year, in which Nadal had prevailed. Djokovic won his third Grand Slam title of the year, overcoming Nadal again in four sets.
The pair met 4 times, with Nadal winning three of the four encounters and Djokovic winning only one, including one Grand Slam final.
Djokovic won the 2012 Australian Open final after an epic five-set battle vs. Nadal. The match lasted 5 hours 53 minutes, the record for the longest match in a Grand Slam final in the open era. At the end of the match, both players were so exhausted they could not stand for the trophy presentation. Nadal called it "the greatest loss in his career" and "the best match he ever played". Djokovic also commented on the match, saying this was a moment he would never forget, and considered it a career-defining victory for himself.
Djokovic and Nadal met again in the 2012 Monte–Carlo Masters 1000 final. This time, Nadal won his eighth consecutive title after defeating Djokovic in two sets. It was the first time since November 2010 that Nadal had beaten Djokovic. They had met in seven finals from January 2011 to January 2012, all of which Djokovic won.
The pair met again in the 2012 Rome Masters final at the Foro Italico where Nadal defeated Djokovic in straight sets and regained the trophy he has won 5 times before. Djokovic was the defending champion
The fourth battle of the year came at the 2012 French Open final. For the second time in tennis history, two opposing tennis players played four consecutive Grand Slams finals against each other. This was a match of historic proportions as either Nadal would have broken Bjorn Borg's record of six titles at the French Open or Djokovic would have become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four Grand Slams in a row. Nadal eventually emerged victorious after 3 consecutive losses in Grand Slam finals, prevailing in 4 sets after multiple rain delays that forced the final to be concluded on the following Monday afternoon. With this victory, Nadal became the most successful tennis player at the French Open, winning seven French Open titles.
The couple met 6 times, with three victories for each one.
Djokovic and Nadal contested the Monte Carlo final for a third time, but this was their first meeting since last year's French Open final, and this was the twelfth time in the last thirteen occasions in which they met in the championship match. Nadal failed to win his 9th title after Djokovic defeated him in straight sets.
At the 2013 French Open Nadal came in as seven time champion and was drawn in the same half as Djokovic, made possible by his 3rd seed. Nadal won the 2013 French Open after beating Djokovic in the semifinal and Ferrer in the final. His semi-final clash with Djokovic was widely considered one of the greatest clay court matches ever played, and Nadal was 2 points away from victory in the 4th set but was denied by Djokovic and taken to a fifth set where he went down a break 4–2 only to break back and ultimately triumph 9–7 and take out a hard-fought 4-hour, 37-minute victory.
It was a unique encounter in that it was almost the mirror opposite of the epic 2012 Australian Open Final they contested where Djokovic was leading Nadal 2–1 sets and was 2 points away from victory in the 4th set only for Nadal to come back and win the 4th set in a tiebreaker and go up a break in the 5th set. In exactly the same fashion the player leading by a break in the 5th set committed a hauntingly uncharacteristic error (Nadal missed an easy backhand pass at 30–15, 4–2 in the fifth in Melbourne, while Djokovic ran into the net after hitting a what would have been a clean winner at 4–3 in the fifth in Paris) only to spark a momentum shift for their opponent to break back and ultimately win the match – Djokovic broke back to win the Australian Open 2012 Final 7–5, while Nadal broke back to win the French Open 2013 Semi-Final 9–7. Nadal suggested that it was almost "poetic justice" that he won this match after losing their brutally epic encounter in Australia.
This was only the second time Nadal had been pushed to five sets at the French Open in 9 years (The first being against John Isner in the 1st round of the 2011 French Open) and he remains unbeaten in 5-set encounters on clay.
Djokovic and Nadal met again at the Montreal Masters 1000 semifinals, with Nadal prevailing in three sets. Nadal would then go on to win the Rogers Cup, marking his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. The US Open final saw a third Nadal-Djokovic matchup, which Nadal took in four sets. While not of the highest quality, the match showed Nadal's fighting spirit, as he clawed down from 0–2 at a set apiece, and from 4–4, 0–40 on his own serve. He would take the title to beat Djokovic for the sixth time out of seven meetings.
The two tennis players faced again in the China Open final with Djokovic winning in straight sets; however, by reaching the final, Nadal took the world #1 ranking away from Djokovic. They met again in the finals of the ATP World Tour Finals, where Djokovic again won in straight sets, winning his third year-end championship, and denying Nadal his first. Nadal finished 2013 as world #1, with Djokovic as world #2, having won 24 consecutive matches after losing the US Open final to Nadal. Their domination in 2013 was also apparent in the year end rankings: together, they amassed 25,290 points, more than the numbers 3 to 7 combined.
2009 Madrid Masters Semifinal
With Nadal widely regarded as invincible on clay courts by many in the tennis world,  Djokovic emerged as one of the few who could test his dominance on it, and the closest Nadal came to losing for the first time in this tournament came in 2009. It was the longest Masters match and semi final in Open Era history. Djokovic took the first set 6–3. But Nadal remained resilient, eventually ending up winning in three sets in what he called one of his greatest wins in his career. Ironically, he would lose in Monte Carlo for the first time in 2013 at the hands of Djokovic.
2010 US Open Final
Nadal needed this title to complete his Golden Career Slam, creating much hype before the tournament.Even more so when he would have to face Djokovic who had an excellent record on this surface. Nadal had perfected his serve to the point where it became his most dangerous weapon. He ended up winning the match and becoming the third man in the Open Era (after Andre Agassi and Roger Federer) to complete a Career Grand Slam and the second man in the open era to complete a Career Golden Slam after Andre Agassi.
2012 Australian Open Final
This match was the third straight Djokovic vs Nadal grand slam final. It was the longest grand slam final in history with Djokovic prevailing 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7, 7–5 in 5 hours 53 minutes. Both players were exhausted to the extent that chairs had to be brought out during presentation. The momentum switched several times throughout the match, at one stage Djokovic being only two points from winning the fourth set and thus the championship. However, Nadal managed to force a deciding set. He went up a break in the fifth set, but the turning point was when he missed a backhand winner at the net at 4–2 30–15, and lost his chance to consolidate his break. Tennis legends Mats Wilander, Björn Borg, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, and Stefan Edberg have all responded saying this was the greatest match of all time. The amount of social media chatter on Facebook and Twitter on the match was never seen before in tennis. Many congratulated both players for playing the greatest match ever witnessed, and news media also commented on the insurmountable quality of the match itself. This is considered to be the greatest match ever played, surpassing the 2008 Wimbledon final between Nadal and Federer.
2013 French Open Semifinal
Björn Borg dubbed it the greatest clay court match ever. John McEnroe called it one of the top 5 matches of all time. Both gladiators produced incredible tennis in what was a mirror image of the 2012 Australian Open Final. Djokovic hit the net on a winner that would have put him up and close to the victory, and it was ruled a point in Nadal's favor. Nadal called it the greatest win in his career, and Djokovic called it the greatest loss in his career.
Djokovic and Nadal have played 39 times to date; Nadal leads 22–17. In Grand Slams, Nadal leads 8–3. In best-of-five matches, Nadal leads 9–3. In finals, Djokovic leads 10-9.
Commentators Dick Enberg, John McEnroe, and Mary Carillo have said that this rivalry has the potential of being the greatest rivalry in tennis history due to the number of matches already played between the two, the quality of the matches, and the age difference of only one year.
Djokovic is the player with most career wins against Nadal. Nadal is also the player with most career wins against Djokovic. Djokovic is the only player to have defeated Nadal in 3 clay court finals. Many experts conclude that Djokovic is the only challenge to Nadal on clay, seeing as how Federer has only recorded 2 match wins against Nadal on clay throughout his career and Soderling is no longer a Top 10 player. Both play a similar style of tennis but have differences that make their matches competitive and unique.
The rivalry has seen dominance shift back and forth, with Nadal dominant early on, followed by Djokovic beating Nadal seven times in a row, then Nadal winning six out of seven, and Djokovic winning the last two.
Many pundits have claimed this to be the greatest rivalry of the Open Era given the amount of records it has produced, the quality of their matches, it has the most encounters in history, and the amount of classic matches it has produced that are unrivaled by any other. In 2009, it was rated the 3rd best rivalry of the last decade even though it only began in 2006.
- All matches: Nadal, 22–17
- All finals: Djokovic, 10–9
- Grand Slam matches: Nadal, 8–3
- Grand Slam finals: Tied, 3–3
- Tennis Masters Cup/ATP World Tour Finals matches: Tied, 2–2
- Tennis Masters Cup/ATP World Tour Finals finals: Djokovic, 1–0
- ATP Masters Series/ATP World Tour Masters 1000 matches: Djokovic, 11–9
- ATP Masters Series/ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals: Tied, 5–5
- Davis Cup matches: Nadal, 1-0
- Olympic matches: Nadal, 1–0
Results on each court surface
- Clay courts: Nadal 13–3
- Hard courts: Djokovic 13–7
- Grass courts: Nadal 2–1
|Hard Court (o)||Clay||Grass||Hard Court (i)||Total|
|Hamburg / Madrid||1||2||1||2|
| Tennis Masters Cup /
ATP World Tour Finals
List of all matches
|Legend (2004–2008)||Legend (2009–present)||Djokovic||Nadal|
|Grand Slam||Grand Slam||3||8|
|Tennis Masters Cup||ATP World Tour Finals||2||2|
|ATP Masters Series||ATP World Tour Masters 1000||11||9|
|ATP International Series Gold||ATP World Tour 500 Series||1||0|
|ATP International Series||ATP World Tour 250 Series||0||1|
|Davis Cup||Davis Cup||0||1|
|1.||2006||Roland Garros||Clay||Quarter-final||Nadal||6–4, 6–4, RET||1:54||0||1|
|2.||2007||Indian Wells||Hard||Final||Nadal||6–2, 7–5||1:34||0||2|
|5.||2007||Roland Garros||Clay||Semi-final||Nadal||7–5, 6–4, 6–2||2:28||1||4|
|6.||2007||Wimbledon||Grass||Semi-final||Nadal||3–6, 6–1, 4–1, RET||1:41||1||5|
|8.||2007||Tennis Masters Cup||Hard (i)||Round Robin||Nadal||6–4, 6–4||1:44||2||6|
|9.||2008||Indian Wells||Hard||Semi-final||Djokovic||6–3, 6–2||1:28||3||6|
|10.||2008||Hamburg||Clay||Semi-final||Nadal||7–5, 2–6, 6–2||3:03||3||7|
|11.||2008||Roland Garros||Clay||Semi-final||Nadal||6–4, 6–2, 7–6(7–3)||2:49||3||8|
|12.||2008||Queen's Club||Grass||Final||Nadal||7–6(8–6), 7–5||2:16||3||9|
|14.||2008||Summer Olympics||Hard||Semi-final||Nadal||6–4, 1–6, 6–4||2:10||4||10|
|15.||2009||Davis Cup||Clay||1R||Nadal||6–4, 6–4, 6–1||2:28||4||11|
|16.||2009||Monte Carlo||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–3, 2–6, 6–1||2:43||4||12|
|18.||2009||Madrid||Clay||Semi-final||Nadal||3–6, 7–6(7–5), 7–6(11–9)||4:03||4||14|
|20.||2009||Paris||Hard (i)||Semi-final||Djokovic||6–2, 6–3||1:17||6||14|
|21.||2009||ATP World Tour Finals||Hard (i)||Round Robin||Djokovic||7–6(7–5), 6–3||1:58||7||14|
|22.||2010||US Open||Hard||Final||Nadal||6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–2||3:43||7||15|
|23.||2010||ATP World Tour Finals||Hard (i)||Round Robin||Nadal||7–5, 6–2||1:52||7||16|
|24.||2011||Indian Wells||Hard||Final||Djokovic||4–6, 6–3, 6–2||2:25||8||16|
|25.||2011||Miami||Hard||Final||Djokovic||4–6, 6–3, 7–6(7–4)||3:21||9||16|
|28.||2011||Wimbledon||Grass||Final||Djokovic||6–4, 6–1, 1–6, 6–3||2:28||12||16|
|29.||2011||US Open||Hard||Final||Djokovic||6–2, 6–4, 6–7(3–7), 6–1||4:10||13||16|
|30.||2012||Australian Open||Hard||Final||Djokovic||5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 7–5||5:53||14||16|
|31.||2012||Monte Carlo||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–3, 6–1||1:18||14||17|
|33.||2012||Roland Garros||Clay||Final||Nadal||6–4, 6–3, 2–6, 7–5||3:49||14||19|
|34.||2013||Monte Carlo||Clay||Final||Djokovic||6–2, 7–6(7–1)||1:52||15||19|
|35.||2013||Roland Garros||Clay||Semi-final||Nadal||6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 6–7(3–7), 9–7||4:37||15||20|
|36.||2013||Canada||Hard||Semi-final||Nadal||6–4, 3–6, 7–6(7–2)||2:28||15||21|
|37.||2013||US Open||Hard||Final||Nadal||6–2, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1||3:21||15||22|
|39.||2013||ATP World Tour Finals||Hard (i)||Final||Djokovic||6–3, 6–4||1:36||17||22|
- Most matches played in the Open Era (39)
- Most matches played at Grand Slams (11) (shared with Djokovic-Federer)
- Most matches played against each other in Masters 1000 (20)
- Most finals played against each other in Masters 1000 (10) (shared with Federer-Nadal)
- Most consecutive defeats of the world number 1 in a season by the same player (No2/No3 Djokovic def No1 Nadal 5 times in 2011)
- Most viewed men's tennis match (2012 Australian Open final)
- Most viewed men's Grand Slam final (2012 Australian Open final)
- Longest Grand Slam final in Open Era history (at the 2012 Australian Open final)
- Longest match in Australian Open history (2012 Australian Open final)
- Longest Australian Open final (2012 Australian Open final)
- Longest ATP three-set match of the Open Era with tiebreak in last set (at the 2009 Madrid Masters)
- Longest ATP Masters 1000 three-set match of the Open Era (at the 2009 Madrid Masters)
- Longest Madrid Masters match (2009 Madrid Masters semifinal)
- Latest finish for an uninterrupted Grand Slam match (2012 Australian Open Final)
- Latest finish for an uninterrupted Grand Slam final (2012 Australian Open)
- Only male pair in Open Era history to have met in each of the four Grand Slam finals
- Only male pair in Open Era history to have met in four Grand Slam finals in a row
- Most different ATP Masters Series tournaments played (9/10) (played in Hamburg but missing Shanghai)
- This rivalry is 2nd in terms of Grand Slam finals played with 6 (Federer-Nadal rivalry has 8)
- This rivalry is tied for 2nd in terms of overall finals matches played with 19 (Lendl-McEnroe 1st with 20, Federer-Nadal 2nd with 19 as well)
In Bogota on March 21, 2011, Nadal beat Djokovic in their first exhibition match and the highest caliber match ever played in Colombia. A second exhibition, with proceeds to benefit a foundation run by Nadal and the soccer team Real Madrid, was scheduled for July 14, 2012 in Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, but cancelled because of injury to Nadal.
|2.||2013||Santiago de Chile||Hard||Exhibition||Djokovic||7–6(7–3), 6–4||1||1|
|3.||2013||Buenos Aires||Hard||Exhibition||Nadal||6–4, 7–5||1||2|
- () = active record (updated Monday December 30, 2013)
|Age (end of season)||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25||26||27||28||29||30|
|Grand Slam titles||Djokovic||0||0||0||1||1||1||4||5||6|
|Grand Slam match wins||Djokovic||5||14||33||51||66||85||110||134||158|
|Total match wins||Djokovic||13||53||121||185||263||324||394||469||543|
|Weeks at number 1||Djokovic||0||0||0||0||0||0||26||62||101|
Performance timeline comparison (Grand Slam tournaments)
Won tournament; or reached Final; Semifinal; Quarter-final; Round 4, 3, 2, 1; competed at a Round Robin stage; lost in Qualification Round; absent from tournament event; played in a Davis Cup Zonal Group (with its number indication) or Play-off; won a bronze, silver (F or S) or gold medal at the Olympics; a downgraded Masters Series/1000 tournament (Not a Masters Series); or a tournament that was Not Held in a given year.
To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated either at the conclusion of a tournament, or when the player's participation in the tournament has ended.
- Bold = players met during this tournament
Djokovic–Nadal Grand Slam Era
|Year||Australian Open||French Open||Wimbledon||US Open|
|2008||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer|
|2009||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||Roger Federer||Juan Martín del Potro|
|2010||Roger Federer||Rafael Nadal||Rafael Nadal||Rafael Nadal|
|2011||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Novak Djokovic||Novak Djokovic|
|2012||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||Andy Murray|
|2013||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Andy Murray||Rafael Nadal|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Novak Đoković.|
- Media related to Rafael Nadal at Wikimedia Commons
- Djokovic–Nadal head-to-head
- ATP Tennis Rivalries:Novak & Rafa – The Rivalry