Top five epic matches between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

This year's Wimbledon semi-final will be the 52nd time they meet on the court ever since they turned professionals. Djokovic leads the head-to-head battle with 26 wins.

Published: 13th July 2018 08:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th July 2018 03:29 AM   |  A+A-

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal have faced each other 52 times so far. (File photos | AP)

Online Desk

After almost two weeks of intense tennis action, Wimbledon has entered the semifinal stage. The men's tennis is set to witness two greats of the game, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, take on each other in the semis clash today. Djokovic has three Wimbledon titles while Nadal has two.

This will be the 52nd time they meet on the court ever since they turned professionals. Djokovic leads the head-to-head battle with 26 wins.

In their illustrious careers, they have played some hard-fought battles. Here's a list of five top matches of this coveted rivalry:

1) US Open Finals, 2011

Suffering from pain in his back, ribs and cramping legs, Novak Djokovic was face-down beside the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium, getting treatment. Having dropped a set against defending champion Rafael Nadal, Djokovic's grip on the U.S. Open title appeared to slip away.

Djokovic came back strongly after the third set debacle, producing an outstanding performance, the World No.1 sent winners from all angles and beat World No. 2 Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1 in a match chock-full of lengthy and fascinating points to earn the first U.S. Open championship of his career. His performance matched his perfect season as he won his third Grand Slam of the calendar year.

Of all of Djokovic's skills, the one that separated him the most was his return. He repeatedly sent serves back at Nadal's feet, forcing errors and taking control of the point. That helped Djokovic accumulate an astounding 26 break points and convert 11 of them.

2) French Open Finals, 2014

Beating Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros is a Herculean task, but after winning the first set in the 2014 finals, Djokovic had the upper hand in the match. After losing the first set, Nadal had to work hard to come back in the second set. Once he upped his ante, Nadal was at his fore and dominated the match to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4. 

Nadal won his ninth French Open championship and fifth in a row. This was Nadal's 14th Grand Slam, tying him at second with Pete Sampras and only behind Roger Federer.

3) French Open Semi-Finals, 2013

A rematch of previous year's finals at Roland Garros, it was a gruelling five-setter match. Nadal won the first set before losing the second one. He came back strongly in the third set to win 6-1 and then world number one Djokovic kept his nerves to tie the match in the fourth set. With the fifth and final set to decide the finalist, Nadal gave it his all to win 9-7 and won the match  6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 9-7. 

The match lasted nearly five hours and it's the longest between the two players on clay. Nadal went on to win the title by beating his countrymen David Ferrer in the finals to get his hands on the eighth French Open title.

4) Madrid Masters Semi-Finals, 2008

Djokovic was looking for his first victory against Nadal on clay. Djokovic took the first set easily and held his serve in the second set before the tie-breaker. Nadal took the second set and but was reeling behind in the third 3-1. Djokovic had three match points but could not capitalise and Nadal won the match 3-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

This is the longest three-set match in the history as it lasted for four hours and three minutes. Nadal went on to lose the finals to Roger Federer. 

5) Australian Open Finals, 2012

Novak Djokovic ripped off his shirt and let out a primal scream, flexing his torso the way a prize fighter would after a desperate, last-round knockout. After losing the first set, Djokovic went on to take the next two sets. Nadal came back into the came in the fourth set when he won the tie-breaker to tie the match. Djokovic overcame a break in the fifth set to win 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5. 

The match went into the history books as longest Grand Slam final ever with a match time of five hours and 53 minutes. With the win Djokovic also completed seven consecutive wins against Rafael Nadal. This was Djokovic's fifth Grand Slam title and third in a row.

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