Novak & Rafa: The Rivalry, Matches 1-10
A recap of every match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal...
2008 Masters Series Hamburg presented by EON Hanse semi-final, Hamburg, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 75 26 62
Rafael Nadal came out on top in the battle for the No. 2 position in the South African Airways ATP Rankings with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Novak Djokovic in a titanic battle over three hours and three minutes. It was the greatest match of their rivalry to date. In a first set featuring five breaks of serve under the roof on Center Court, Djokovic began in blistering form, breaking Nadal early to lead 3-0. The pressure began to tell on Djokovic, and Nadal broke back to lead 5-4. However, with Nadal serving for the set, Djokovic relaxed, went for his shots and it paid off as he leveled for 5-5. With the atmosphere rising, 2007 finalist Nadal found more outstanding tennis and a forehand pass broke Djokovic’s serve again and gave Nadal the 6-5 lead. This time Nadal did not falter and he served it out after 72 minutes. Both men continued to produce their finest tennis for much of the second set, before Djokovic was able to edge out a break of serve to lead 3-2 with some deep, aggressive hitting bullying Nadal into errors. With Nadal serving at 2-5, 15-30, a reflex volley from Djokovic set up two set points and the pressure told on Nadal as he put a forehand wide for Djokovic to level the match. Nadal immediately earned a break of serve in the third set. After failing to convert break back chances, Djokovic’s resistance began to crumble.
2008 Pacific Life Open semi-final, Indian Wells, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 62
In a semifinal full of long, spectacular rallies, Novak Djokovic struck eight aces and 20 winners to 11 for defending champion Rafael Nadal in a 6-3, 6-2 win in one hour and 28 minutes. Nadal, who struggled on serve throughout the match, secured an early break of serve but Djokovic fought back to level for 2-2 and broke again for 5-3 with a net cord winner. Djokovic won the final four games. "I had very tough matches in the rounds before, very tight matches," Nadal said. "You have to be 100%. [Djokovic] played, for sure, less hours on the court than me, easier matches."
2007 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai round robin, Shanghai, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 64
Rafael Nadal needed to beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets in order to secure a semifinal berth, and was in combative mood from the start. "I play very, very good match – the best match here, and one of the best matches of the indoor season," said Nadal, after the 6-4, 6-4 win in one hour and 44 minutes. "I play very, very complete match." Unable to clinch a semifinal berth, Djokovic tried throughout – hitting nine aces – but was eventually outclassed.
2007 Rogers Cup semi-final, Montreal, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 75 63
Novak Djokovic enjoyed his career-best tournament to date by becoming the first player since Boris Becker at Stockholm in 1994 to defeat the Top 3 players in the ATP Rankings at the same tournament. Having knocked out No. 3-ranked Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals, the Serbian overcame No. 2 and 2005 Montreal champion Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 50 minutes. Djokovic saved all eight break point he faced. In his third straight ATP Masters Series final in North America, Djokovic defeated World No. 1 Roger Federer.
2007 Wimbledon semi-finals, London, grass, Nadal d. Djokovic 36 61 41 ret. (left toe)
Rafael Nadal reached his fifth career Grand Slam final after fourth seed Novak Djokovic retired due to severe blisters on his left toe. Nadal was leading 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 with one hour and 41 minutes on the clock. Djokovic did not look fully fit, after two epic victories over Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round and Marcos Baghdatis in the quarterfinals. Nadal began the match sluggishly dropping his opening service game to hand his opponent a 2-0 lead, which Djokovic capitalised on with the first set in 37 minutes. World No. 5 Djokovic dropped his serve twice in the second and sixth games of the second set, which Nadal clinched in 35 minutes. The trainer was then called at one set apiece to bandage a blister on the little toe of Djokovic’s left foot. The Serbian attempted to play on but, after being broken in the third and fifth games of the set, decided to call a halt at his fifth career grass-court event.
2007 Roland Garros semi-finals, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 75 64 62
Both started the semifinal as the only ATP players to have broken the 40-win plateau on the season. Novak Djokovic, a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist, challenged Rafael Nadal in the 66-minute first set as he came from down two breaks to get back on serve at five games all. But Nadal promptly closed the set as he won the next two games. Djokovic had an opportunity to take the 2-0 lead in the next set, but Nadal saved three break points and never looked back. He converted on three of his remaining four break chances in the match to cement the 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 win in two hours and 28 minutes. The Spaniard went on to become the second player in Roland Garros history (since 1925) to win three consecutive titles in Paris.
2007 Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-final, Rome, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 63
Back on his beloved clay, two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal produced a devastating display to beat Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes. "I'm playing at my best level for sure," Nadal said after extending his Open Era record winning streak to 77 matches. "It was a very nice match. We were playing at 100 percent every point. Djokovic is very, very good player. He didn't play a bad match today. He served very well on the break points - unbelievable. Every time he beat me with the serve. But finally I played consistently, and that's decisive."
2007 Sony Ericsson Open quarter-final, Miami, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 64
"I have to say that this is the biggest, and probably the most important victory in my career, and he's the best player I ever won against," said Novak Djokovic, after avenging his Pacific Life Open final defeat with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Rafael Nadal in the Miami quarterfinals. "Coming from Indian Wells finals, I learned a lot of things... Today I was really motivated. I didn't have anything to lose. I'm making some unbelievable results in the last couple of months. I'm in great shape, feeling really confident on the court." Djokovic, who saved three break points in the final game to record his second Top 10 win of the year – after beating Tommy Robredo in the Rotterdam quarterfinals in February – rose to a career-high No. 7.
2007 Pacific Life Open final, Indian Wells, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 75
Rafael returned to top form by capturing his first title since lifting his second Roland Garros crown in June 2006. The 20-year-old Spaniard won the first nine points and 16 of the first 18 points against Novak Djokovic, who lost his serve three times. "This is one of the best wins for me," said Nadal, who won 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 34 minutes. "It is a strange feeling to come here and win without losing a set. I won against a great player." As a result Djokovic rose three spots to No. 10 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.
2006 Roland Garros quarter-finals, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 64 ret. (thigh, back)
Defending champion Rafael Nadal struggled with his serve, but Novak Djokovic was never 100 per cent fit and attempted to keep the points short throughout his maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal. Nadal, who led Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, notched his 58th consecutive clay-court victory when the World No. 63 retired with a back and thigh injury after one hour and 54 minutes. Nadal extended his perfect Roland Garros record to 12-0 and stood two wins away from a century of career wins (98-12) on crushed brick.