Go all the way in which again to June eight, 2006, when Rafael Nadal moved on on the French Open after his 19-year-old, the 63rd-ranked opponent within the quarterfinals stop due to a nasty again whereas trailing two units to none.
That opponent’s evaluation of Nadal after going through him for the primary time as execs: “He’s the best on this surface, but he’s not unbeatable. That’s for sure.”
That foe? Novak Djokovic. Fast-forward to the ultimate at Roland Garros on Sunday, when No. 1 Djokovic and No. 2 Nadal will stand throughout from one another as soon as once more at Court Philippe Chatrier, solely this time in October after the match was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It can be their 56th tour-level assembly — greater than every other pair of males within the Open period, which dates to 1968.
And let’s not overlook the large image: This match carries vital weight within the Grand Slam standings that so many followers, and the gamers themselves, maintain tabs on.
Roger Federer, who’s 39 and missed most of this season after having two knee operations, owns the lads’s file of 20 main championships. Nadal, who’s 34, is subsequent amongst males with 19; Djokovic, 33, stands third with 17.
After Sunday, both Nadal will pull even with Federer for the primary time since they had been tied with zero apiece, or Djokovic will achieve on the main duo and the totals will learn 20-19-18.
For now, that is how every has stuffed his trophy cupboard:
— Djokovic: eight on the Australian Open, 5 at Wimbledon, Three on the U.S. Open, 1 on the French Open;
— Nadal: 12 on the French Open, Four on the U.S. Open, 2 at Wimbledon, 1 on the Australian Open;
— Federer: eight at Wimbledon, 6 on the Australian Open, 5 on the U.S. Open, 1 on the French Open.
All three are greats of the sport, no matter the place the numbers find yourself, after all.
Still, as a lot as Nadal wouldn’t interact in a dialogue about his likelihood to catch Federer after beating Diego Schwartzman 6-Three, 6-Three, 7-6 (zero) within the semifinals Friday, he did acknowledge that “it’s good for tennis” if others speak about it.
Rest assured, they’ll.
Much in the way in which that for years, folks will debate which of the Big Three duos had essentially the most intriguing head-to-head matchup: Federer vs. Nadal, Djokovic vs. Federer, or Nadal vs. Djokovic.
“He’s definitely my greatest rival,” Djokovic mentioned about Nadal on Friday after getting previous Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-Three, 6-2, 5-7, Four-6, 6-1 within the semifinals. “Playing him in so many great matches, of course the past will have some effect, in terms of respect towards each other, I guess — motivation to get out on the court and play your best, knowing that we both have to be at our best in order to win against each other.”
Nadal known as Djokovic, who’s 37-1 in 2020, the lone loss through disqualification on the U.S. Open final month, “one of the toughest opponents possible.”
“The only thing I know is: To play against Novak, I need to play my best. Without playing my best tennis, (the) situation is very difficult,” Nadal mentioned. “I know that is a court that I have been playing well (on) for such a long time, so that helps.”
Djokovic leads 29-26 general. Nadal leads 9-6 in Grand Slam matches, together with 6-1 on the French Open. They’re tied Four-all in main finals.
And whereas Nadal is 99-2 over his outstanding profession at Roland Garros — “It’s his house,” Djokovic mentioned — it’s value noting that a kind of defeats got here courtesy of Djokovic within the 2015 quarterfinals.
“I hopefully will be able to play my best tennis, because that’s what’s going to be needed in order to have a shot at the trophy,” mentioned Djokovic, describing Nadal on pink clay as “the biggest obstacle and challenge that you can have.”
“This is what it comes down to. I’ve been there; I’ve done it,” he mentioned. “I understand what needs to be done and how I need to prepare myself. I’m looking forward to it.”