Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal: All the key numbers ahead of blockbuster French Open semi-final

How about this for a contrast: the eight semi-finalists combined in the men’s and women’s draw at the French Open had a total of 78 Grand Slam appearances in the last four previously. Out of this, the four women and two other men accounted for a total of five. A certain Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal accounted for 73. The mind, as ever with these two, boggles.

And so we arrive at the main event on Friday. Sure, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are in action too but the world is waiting for the most prolific modern tennis rivalry (men’s singles). No two men have met more often than Djokovic and Nadal have on a tennis court in the Open Era and they clash for the 58th time on Friday.

And at the same court where they first met 15 years ago.

Pause, rewind, play: The beginning of the legendary Nadal-Djokovic rivalry

From French Open 2006 to Wimbledon 2018: 10 greatest Grand Slam matches between Nadal and Djokovic

(Scroll across to view all columns in the tables below. All stats for Open Era only)

Most frequent rivalries in men’s tennis

Rivalry Matches played (all levels) Head-to-head record
Djokovic–Nadal 57 29–28
Djokovic–Federer 50 27–23
Federer–Nadal 40 16–24
Lendl–McEnroe 36 21–15
Djokovic–Murray 36 25–11

Most matches at Grand Slams (men’s)

Rivalry M H2H
Federer – Djokovic  17 6 – 11
Djokovic- Nadal  16 6 – 10
Federer-Nadal  14 4 – 10
Djokovic-Murray  10 8 – 2
Lendl-McEnroe 10 7 – 3
Federer-Berdych 10 8 – 2
Courtesy: Ultimate Tennis Statistics

Most matches at clay Grand Slams (men’s)

Rivalry Matches played H2H
Djokovic- Nadal 8 1 – 7
Federer-Nadal  6 0 – 6
 Lendl-Wilander 4 2 – 2
Courtesy: Ultimate Tennis Statistics

Most matches on clay overall

Rivalry Matches H2H
Djokovic-Nadal  26 7 – 19
Nadal-Ferrer 22 20 – 2
Federer –  Nadal  16 2 – 14
Vilas-Dibbs 16 13 – 3
Vilas-Higueras 16 12 – 4
Courtesy: Ultimate Tennis Statistics

In fact, in terms of win percentages for each player, no other rivalry in the list of most matches played among men (top 35) is as close as things stand between these two all-time greats. Ivan Lendl and Stefan Edberg come close with a record of 13-14 in 27 matches.

At stake is a place in the French Open final, of course. But both players will also have history in their sights in Paris.

Djokovic, an 18-time major winner and 2016 French Open champion, is looking to become the first man in more than half a century to win all four Slams twice.

Nadal, meanwhile, can win a record-setting 21st major with victory in Sunday’s final, edging ahead of Roger Federer in the all-time race.

Friday’s semi-final will be the eighth between Djokovic and Nadal at Roland Garros where the Spaniard has a commanding 7-1 advantage. That includes last year’s final but Djokovic remains just one of two men to have defeated Nadal at the tournament.

The two men have harvested 38 Grand Slam titles and 72 Masters between them.

Djokovic has spent more weeks at world number one than any other player while 13-time French Open winner Nadal has not been out of the top 10 in 16 years.

Recently turned 35-year-old Nadal will start Friday’s semi-final as favourite, buoyed by his record of 105 wins and just two losses in his Roland Garros career. Indeed, Djokovic hasn’t beaten Nadal on this surface since Rome in 2016. He can, however, boast being one of only two men to have defeated Nadal in Paris, in the quarter-finals in 2015.

Nadal defeated 2016 champion Djokovic in straight sets in last year’s final, the Serb’s third loss in the championship match in Paris to the Spaniard.

Djokovic vs Nadal:

Overall H2H: Djokovic leads 29-28

On clay: Nadal leads 19-7

At French Open: Nadal leads 7-1

At all Grand Slams: Nadal leads 10-6

Among the many reasons to look forward to this epic match-up is the fact that Nadal has the chance to once again level things up in their head-to-head at 29-all. The rivalry began, of course, with Nadal dominating their early encounters but once Djokovic caught up with him on the back of a stunning 2015 season, it’s been the Serb who has had the overall edge. In 2015-2016, he won seven matches in a row to reduce the deficit from 19-23, to go into a 26-23 lead.

Nadal now has the chance to bring things back on level terms on his favourite surface, at a venue that is his kingdom.

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List of Nadal-Djokovic matches (reverse)

Year Event Surface RND Winner Result
2021 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 75 16 63
2020 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 60 62 75
2020 ATP Cup Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 62 764
2019 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 60 46 61
2019 Australian Open Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 63 62 63
2018 Wimbledon Outdoor Grass SF Novak Djokovic 64 36 769 36 108
2018 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay SF Rafael Nadal 764 63
2017 ATP Masters 1000 Madrid Outdoor Clay SF Rafael Nadal 62 64
2016 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay QF Novak Djokovic 75 764
2016 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells Outdoor Hard SF Novak Djokovic 765 62
2016 Doha Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 61 62
2015 ATP Finals Indoor Hard SF Novak Djokovic 63 63
2015 Beijing Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 62 62
2015 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay QF Novak Djokovic 75 63 61
2015 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Outdoor Clay SF Novak Djokovic 63 63
2014 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 36 75 62 64
2014 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay F Novak Djokovic 46 63 63
2014 ATP Masters 1000 Miami Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 63 63
2013 ATP Finals Indoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 63 64
2013 Beijing Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 63 64
2013 US Open Outdoor Hard F Rafael Nadal 62 36 64 61
2013 ATP Masters 1000 Canada Outdoor Hard SF Rafael Nadal 64 36 762
2013 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay SF Rafael Nadal 64 36 61 673 97
2013 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Outdoor Clay F Novak Djokovic 62 761
2012 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 64 63 26 75
2012 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 75 63
2012 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 63 61
2012 Australian Open Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 57 64 62 675 75
2011 US Open Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 62 64 673 61
2011 Wimbledon Outdoor Grass F Novak Djokovic 64 61 16 63
2011 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay F Novak Djokovic 64 64
2011 ATP Masters 1000 Madrid Outdoor Clay F Novak Djokovic 75 64
2011 ATP Masters 1000 Miami Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 46 63 764
2011 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells Outdoor Hard F Novak Djokovic 46 63 62
2010 ATP Finals Indoor Hard RR Rafael Nadal 75 62
2010 US Open Outdoor Hard F Rafael Nadal 64 57 64 62
2009 ATP Finals Indoor Hard RR Novak Djokovic 765 63
2009 ATP Masters 1000 Paris Indoor Hard SF Novak Djokovic 62 63
2009 ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati Outdoor Hard SF Novak Djokovic 61 64
2009 ATP Masters 1000 Madrid Outdoor Clay SF Rafael Nadal 36 765 769
2009 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 762 62
2009 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Outdoor Clay F Rafael Nadal 63 26 61
2009 ESP vs. SRB WG 1st RD Outdoor Clay RR Rafael Nadal 64 64 61
2008 Beijing Olympics Outdoor Hard SF Rafael Nadal 64 16 64
2008 ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati Outdoor Hard SF Novak Djokovic 61 75
2008 Queen’s  Outdoor Grass F Rafael Nadal 766 75
2008 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay SF Rafael Nadal 64 62 763
2008 ATP Masters 1000 Hamburg Outdoor Clay SF Rafael Nadal 75 26 62
2008 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells Outdoor Hard SF Novak Djokovic 63 62
2007 Tennis Masters Cup China Indoor Hard RR Rafael Nadal 64 64
2007 ATP Masters 1000 Canada Outdoor Hard SF Novak Djokovic 75 63
2007 Wimbledon Outdoor Grass SF Rafael Nadal 36 61 41RET
2007 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay SF Rafael Nadal 75 64 62
2007 ATP Masters 1000 Rome Outdoor Clay QF Rafael Nadal 62 63
2007 ATP Masters 1000 Miami Outdoor Hard QF Novak Djokovic 63 64
2007 ATP Masters 1000
Indian Wells
Outdoor Hard F Rafael Nadal 62 75
2006 Roland Garros Outdoor Clay QF Rafael Nadal 64 64RET
Courtesy ATP Head-to-Head

With AFP inputs

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