Since 2006, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have met 56 times on the Tour, forging the greatest Open era rivalry and battling around the tennis globe. Speaking about their most formidable opponents, Rafa picked Roger Federer while Novak went for the Spaniard, aware of their incredible battles and many historical encounters. In the last three years, Nadal and Djokovic were the top-ranked players on the ATP ranking list, leaving all the opponents behind them and chasing Roger Federer in the GOAT race. Rafa and Novak are currently in Adelaide, serving a two-week quarantine and practicing ahead of their first official matches at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. Two great rivals met for the first time at Roland Garros 2006, building an incredible rivalry that has seen them competing in nine Major finals. The Spaniard had the upper hand in their early struggle, winning 14 out of 18 clashes versus the Serb for the best start.
Still, Novak bounced back to beat Rafa in 25 of the last 38 matches, turning the tables after the US Open 2013 to have the upper hand against Rafa and pass him in the head-to-hand standings.Novak Djokovic picks Rafael Nadal as his greatest rival.
Between Beijing 2013 and Rome 2016, Novak scored 11 wins in 12 matches versus his great opponent and grabbed their every hard-court encounter. In the season behind us, Djokovic and Nadal met twice, sharing victories on their favorite surfaces. Novak defeated Rafa 6-2, 7-6 in the ATP Cup final in January, dominating the opening set and staying focused in the second to seal the deal and keep Serbia alive against Spain.
Battling in one of the most important matches of the 21st century, Nadal toppled Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in Roland Garros final, securing the 20th Major crown and leaving Novak on 17. The conditions should have favored Novak, but that wasn’t the case on that day in Paris, with Rafa as a dominant figure in the opening two sets that barely lasted for an hour and a half. Powerless against such a strong rival, Djokovic left those two sets behind and started playing better in the second, staying in touch until the closing games when Nadal shifted into a higher gear to seal the deal. Djokovic and Nadal could meet again at the ATP Cup in the first week of February.