Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 57th time in the Rome Masters final
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will clash for the 57th time in the Rome Masters final on Sunday.
Djokovic leads 29-27 and is looking for his first win on clay over his great rival since the quarter-finals of the same event five years ago.
Nadal holds the edge in Rome with three wins to Djokovic’s two in previous finals, while the Spaniard is bidding for a 10th title in the Italian capital and his opponent a sixth.
Here, we pick out five of their most memorable battles…
2009, Madrid Masters final, Nadal won 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (11-9)
Nadal won a pulsating Madrid Open final against Djokovic in 2009
The Caja Magica was the venue for one of the greatest three-set matches in men’s tennis history. Djokovic was bidding for his first win over Nadal on clay and held three match points but, after four hours and two minutes, it was the Spaniard who came out on top.
2010, US Open final, Nadal won 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2
Djokovic and Nadal embrace after the Spaniard won his first Grand Slam in New York
Their first major final clash saw Nadal win in four sets to complete the career Grand Slam. Djokovic had won an epic semi-final against Roger Federer and in the end could not quite match his rival, while, perhaps in an omen for this tournament, strong serving from the Spaniard was a key factor.
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2012, Australian Open final, Djokovic won 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5
Djokovic provided us with one of the most iconic images after winning a marathon final in Melbourne
This was a contest that cannot be forgotten. The two men battled each other to exhaustion over five hours and 53 minutes, the longest Grand Slam final in history. Chairs were brought out so they did not have to stand during the trophy ceremony.
2013, French Open semi-final, Nadal won 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 9-7
Nadal came out on top at Roland Garros, although he was pushed to the limit on his favourite surface by Djokovic
Djokovic had been getting closer to Nadal at Roland Garros and this was the match that saw them meet as equals. Djokovic led by a break in the decider as he chased the title he wanted more than any other but was penalised for leaning over the net at a key moment and could not hold on.
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2018, Wimbledon semi-final, Djokovic won 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 10-8
Djokovic won a Wimbledon classic between the two in 2018
This was another classic played over two days because of the epic battle between Kevin Anderson and John Isner that preceded it. When play was called off for the night, Djokovic had won a third set he looked set to lose. Nadal broke twice in the fourth set to send the clash into a fifth set which had plenty of twists and turns until the Serb converted his second match point to edge a dramatic decider.
The Spaniard demolished Djokovic for the loss of seven games at Roland Garros last year
Their last meeting in a Grand Slam was in the final of the 2020 French Open, which Nadal won against his long-time challenger, 6-0 6-2 7-5 win, which clinched a record-extending 13th title and 20th Grand Slam overall for the Spaniard.
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