Two of the members of the ‘Big Three’ Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal meet in the semi-final of the 2021 French Open on Friday, June 11. 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 the 58th match between the two players, with Djokovic leading the head-to-head 29-28. They have met eight times at Roland Garros with Nadal leading the head-to-head 7-1. Nadal won their last meeting here in the 2020 French Open final as well as their meeting last month at the Rome Masters 1000 final.
Djokovic Faces Final Frontier
World number one and 2016 French Open champion Novak Djokovic is in search of a second Roland Garros win and a 19th major over the next fortnight. Djokovic started the season well, being undefeated at the ATP Cup and registering a ninth Aussie Open title at the start of the season. An abdominal tear saw him out for the rest of the hard court and indoor season, returning only for the clay swing at Monte Carlo.
It was a mixed clay court season for the Serb building up to the French Open, with early losses at Monte Carlo and Belgrade-1 and then a final run at Rome before losing out to arch rival Rafa Nadal. Djokovic played at his home tournament Belgrade-2 right before Paris, and added another title to his cap and came in to Roland Garros high on confidence.
Djokovic is in the same half of the draw as Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer and has stressed on how important a crucial start to the first week is. He followed that mantra to the ‘T’ as he has was in clinical touch in week one with convincing wins against Tennys Sandgren, Pablo Cuevas and Ricardis Berankis.
The Serb was pushed in the fourth round by Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti and Djokovic was down two sets to love but won 16 of the next 17 games before the teenager pulled out.
It was another Italian Next Gen who pushed him in the final eight, Matteo Berrettini. Djokovic won the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 but then rearguard action from Berrettini saw him clinch the third in the tie-breaker. A close fourth set followed but Djokovic upped the level when the Italian was serving down 5-6, looking to take the match to a tie-breaker and the Serb closed the match 7-5 in the fourth.
Djokovic is in another Roland Garros semi-final and will be looking to break the Rafa Nadal jinx here that has stopped him a few times from more titles here now, but will be well aware that this is probably the most difficult hurdle in the sport and anything less than his best will not be enough on Friday.
Nadal Two Wins From Glorious Feat
Rafa Nadal continued his dominance at Roland Garros improving to 105-2 for his win-loss record and making a Roland Garros quarter-final for the 14th time. He remains unbeaten in semi-finals here with a 13-0 record.
Seeking a record breaking 14th French Open title and a 21st Grand Slam title, Nadal looked strong right from his opening match apart from a small blip there where he saved set-point in the third set. The number three seed continued the dominance in the second round bettering his head-to-head against Richard Gasquet to 17-0 winning 31 sets in a row against the Frenchman spanning 13 years. And into the third it was a dominating 6-3,6-3,6-3 win for the Spaniard.
One expected a lot from Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, but after a close first set that Nadal won 7-5, it was all one-way traffic. Diego Schwartzman an old rival of Nadal played some of the best tennis of his season and was able to tie the match at one set all. But, once Nadal got a hold of the third set he clinched it at 5-4, and then it was six straight games in the fourth to book another semi-final spot.
It took a Herculean feat to win a set against Nadal after 36 straight set wins at Roland Garros and it will take a similar or better feat to stop him from a 14th French Open final this Sunday with Roger Federer’s 21 Grand Slam count on the horizon. But, if there is anyone that can come close to stopping him, it is none other than Novak Djokovic, his opponent on Friday in the final four.
Djokovic v Nadal Prediction and Tip
This is among the most gloried rivalries in the sport and one that even after 57 iterations is as close as it is with a 29-28 head-to-head. Expect another close battle with rallies of the highest level. Djokovic will be laser focused for this one, but will that be enough??
A tight match but at the end it is Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros- the best combination in the sport. Expect Nadal to win in four sets.