Sun. Jun 20th, 2021


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Nadal: Djokovic is world’s best

It’s here, Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal meet again in a colossal French Open 2021 semi-final.

This is one of the all-time great rivalries in sport, with Djokovic holding a slight advantage overall, leading 29-28 in the head-to-head.

But it is the Spaniard who holds an overall advantage head-to-head in Grand Slams, 20-18. With the reigning champion at Roland Garros naturally holding a dominant record on the clay in Paris over the Serbian, leading 13-1.

“Let’s face it, it’s the biggest challenge that you can have playing on clay against Nadal on this court in which he has had so much success in his career,” Djokovic remarked, not mixing his words or downplaying the challenge in front of him. “In the final stages of a Grand Slam, it doesn’t get bigger than that.”

The pair have won 38 Grand Slam titles between them, and Djokovic is bidding to become the first player of the Open era to win every Grand Slam at least twice.

While Nadal is looking to extend a ludicrous record of 13 successive titles at Roland Garros, with his staggering record of 105 wins from his 107 career matches. The famous defeats came in 2009, losing to Robin Soderling 2-6 7-6(2) 4-6 6-7(2) in the 4th Round, while Djokovic did get the better of him on the clay in 2015, winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, but he would ultimately lose in the final to Stan Wawrinka, though redemption came a year later with the title in 2016.

“We know each other well. Everybody knows that in these kind of matches anything can happen,” Nadal said after sweeping past Argentine 10th seed Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals. “The player who is playing better that day is the player that is going to have better chances. That’s it.

“It is going to be an important match for both of us. But is a semi-final, not a final. That’s a big difference. Even the winner of that match needs to keep going and there remains a lot of work to do to try to achieve the final goal here.”

Please follow live updates from the conclusion of Alexander Zverev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas, before the main event of Djokovic vs Nadal.

Read more:

Rafael Nadal responds to rare drop of set to reach French Open semi-finals

French Open: How to watch Nadal vs Djokovic semi-final online and on TV today

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic set for ‘great battle’ in French Open semi-final

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Djokovic* vs Nadal 3-6 2-1 (*denotes last server)

Just when you think the momentum is swinging away from Nadal, he pulls it back his way.

He races into a 0-30 lead and then Djokovic can’t find the corner with a crosscourt forehand as he hands the Spaniard three break back points.

OH MY! Nadal with a flat, bullet-like forehand down the line to break to love.

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 19:22

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Djokovic vs Nadal* 3-6 2-0 (*denotes last server)

The tide is well and truly turning here. Nadal sends a forehand long and Djokovic brings up 0-30.

And another error from Nadal hands Djokovic three break points.

Nadal plays a delightful drop shot to save one but the second point he goes long! Djokovic breaks.

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 19:19

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Djokovic* vs Nadal 3-6 1-0 (*denotes last server)

Winning that first set means Nadal has now won all of the last ten sets played between himself and Djokovic at Roland Garros.

(Getty Images)

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 19:16

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Djokovic* vs Nadal 3-6 1-0 (*denotes last server)

Straight into the second set we go! Djokovic is definitely looking better and he impresses in the first two points of the set, winning both, the second with a nice volley at the end of it all.

Nadal gets too much topspin on a forehand and Djokovic holds to love.

Just what the doctor ordered for the Serb.

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 19:14

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Djokovic vs Nadal* 3-6 (*denotes last server)

Djokovic senses a way back into this set now. But he’s not going to get it like that. He finds the middle of the net with a dreadful forehand and then makes another error by going long from a Nadal second serve.

A PHENOMENAL lob from one corner of the court to the other brings up three more set points for Nadal.

Djokovic saves two with some remarkable defence and then gets to the third as Nadal finds the net! SIX set points have gone begging for the Spaniard.

He brings up a seventh as the Serb goes long with his return of serve.

And Djokovic doesn’t have a seventh life in him! Into the net he goes and Nadal eventually takes the set.

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 19:09

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Djokovic* vs Nadal 3-5 (*denotes last server)

Djokovic trying to keep up his momentum now but can’t quite pull the ball back inside the line with a forehand down the line.

Nadal then plays a superb crosscourt forehand which ends up about seven feet high in the air and Djokovic can’t get to it.

A nice forehand and a big serve from the Serb level it up at 30-30. But Djokovic goes long from the Nadal spin and the champion has a third set point.

Can he take this one? Nope. Djokovic smashes beyond Nadal (although that doesn’t stop Nadal’s attempt to fish it back out from near-enough the front row).

Great work from Djokovic to work a space for a forehand finish leads to him holding again!

Three games in a row for the Serb.

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 19:02

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Djokovic vs Nadal* 2-5 (*denotes last server)

Nadal is serving for the set but isn’t having it all his own way. A skewed forehand is followed up by a sensational Djokovic return across the Nadal side which forces the champion into another error. 0-30.

Djokovic then fires a tame forehand into the net as he misses the opportunity to take three break points. But a lovely drop shot from the Serb does bring up two break points!

One saved from Nadal as he rifles in a forehand while moving backwards (how does he do that?!). And a second break point saved as Djokovic goes long.

Nadal smashes home off a big serve to bring up set point. Djokovic saves it with a great return at the feet of the Nadal which puts him in control to win the rally.

Djokovic then has Nadal on the back foot as he lobs him but a remarkable Nadal smash from over his shoulder gives him advantage again. Nope, back to deuce again as Nadal finds the net.

Djokovic then has a break point again and this time he takes it off a double fault!

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 18:55

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Djokovic* vs Nadal 1-5 (*denotes last server)

Djokovic looks to have started the game well with a nice drop shot but Nadal responds with a simply breathtaking cutaway drop shot of his own that the Serb cannot get his racket on.

The 18-time Slam champion fights back to take a 30-15 lead but yet another classic Nadal forehand down the line takes it to 40-30.

But Nadal then finds the net! Djokovic is on the board.

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 18:45

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Djokovic vs Nadal* 0-5 (*denotes last server)

He has no answer right now.

(Getty Images)

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 18:41

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Djokovic vs Nadal* 0-5 (*denotes last server)

Djokovic misses another backhand. He then looks to have levelled the game up but an umpire’s look at a ball on the line confirms his shot was out. 30-0.

A double fault from Nadal gives the Serb some momentary hope. But a wonderful backhand down the line forces another error from Djokovic.

Big serve. Djokovic stumbles. 5-0.

Dylan Terry11 June 2021 18:40



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