World number one Novak Djokovic will hope he can get the better of Spaniad and third-ranked Rafael Nadal in the final of the 2021 Italian Open on Sunday, May 16. Get the live streaming options of this Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal Head to Head
This will be 57th time in their careers will they be facing off in a competitive match. And it gives Nadal a chance to get closer to Djokovic’s 29 wins to his 27 losses against the Spaniard.
On clay, this record is 18-7 in favour of Nadal, with Djokovic having turned things around in the 2014-16 period on this surface but suffered some punishing losses recently.
Their most recent meeting came at the French Open final last season at which Djokovic was bit of a favourite but Nadal sliced him through and through to win 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 and win another title. In their most recent four matches on clay, Nadal is 4-0 but his last win over Djokovic outside of this surface came in 2013.
Exhaustion a Factor for Djokovic
Djokovic’s season on clay hasn’t been the best and the world number one had admitted he will have to go back to the drawing board to try and figure out a way to turn things around again.
After all, the Serb had been sent packing in the third round of the Monte-Carlo Masters by Dan Evans and then failed to even make the final of his own tournament in Serbia as he fell to Aslan Karatsev in the last four.
Here, in Rome, Djokovic had had to play a match and a half, gruelling ones at that too on Saturday and now takes on the might of Nadal on Sunday. Looks to be a tough deal.
Speaking of tough though, Djokovic might have played one of toughest ones on clay on Saturday when he came back from the dead multiple times against Stefanos Tsitsipas to finally win in three. Down a set and a break in the second, Djokovic then prevented his opponent from serving for the match before finishing off the encounter 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
He then overcame Lorenzo Sonego in another difficult three-setter to set up this meeting with Nadal. Can he actually dream of making it his sixth title here in Rome?
Nadal Regaining Clay Rhythm
It hasn’t been the best of seasons for the king of clay but the signs this week has been positive for Nadal. Since losing in the quarterfinals at both, the Monte-Carlo Masters and the Madrid Masters last week, he has found a way to get back to his winning routines.
That has included a three-setter against Denis Shapovalov, who had gone into that match at 8/1 to win it but he followed it up with a straight-set defeat of Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinal.
That win over Zverev was an important one given his German opponent had shocked Nadal in the quarterfinal in Madrid, before going on to win the title there. There had been talks of the clay crown passing hands after that defeat but once Nadal had carved out a victory over Zverev, all eyes were back on how he goes against the world number one.
Before that, Nadal faced Reilly Opelka in the semifinal and registered a 6-4, 6-4 win over the American, with the match lasting an hour and 33. Nadal broke his opponent twice and while he faced four break-points of his own, he managed to stall his opponent on each of those occasions.
Can he make it five wins in a row on clay against Djokovic?
Djokovic v Nadal Prediction and Tip
All week, Djokovic hasn’t looked as good as he would like but found a way to win. Nadal, on the other hand, was tested just once, which makes him a heavy favourite here. At least by the standards of this contest.