The two players who have won 15 of the last 17 French Open titles will meet again on Tuesday in the quarter-finals of one of the tournament’s most anticipated matches.
They have faced each other 59 times – more than two other men in the sport’s professional era – and their matches are relatively even; Nadal leads in Grand Slams with 21 titles, while Djokovic leads head-to-head 30-28.
On clay, the rivalry is more lopsided in favor of Nadal, who has won seven matches compared to Djokovic’s two.
Nadal’s dominance in this tournament has been so strong that his fourth-round victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime yesterday was only the third time in his career that he has played five sets at Roland Garros.
But in that fifth set, he showed his prowess on clay. Just two sets and three games away, Nadal had a break point when he was 15-30 ahead on an Auger-Aliassime serve.
With two extraordinary passing shots, Nadal broke the young Canadian and ended the match after a minor incident.
Top seed and world No. Meanwhile, Djokovic made it to the quarter-finals by beating Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
This continued his excellent start to the tournament, in which he has yet to lose a set.
“Obviously when the draw was announced, I think it was a highly anticipated matchup for a lot of people,” Djokovic said as he looked forward to his quarter-final matchup against Nadal.
“I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time on the court before the quarter-finals, knowing that playing him at Roland Garros is always a physical battle, along with everything else.
“[It’s] a huge challenge and probably the biggest challenge you can have here at Roland Garros. I’m ready for it.”
“Of course we know each other well. We have a great history together,” Nadal said after winning in the fourth round.
“Here we are at Roland Garros. Without a doubt, this is my favorite place. I don’t know what will happen, but the only thing I can guarantee is that I will fight to the end.”
In such a fierce rivalry, every detail is of particular importance. For the first time this year, the tournament organizers have scheduled an evening session that could affect the outcome of the match.
Nadal prefers warmer daytime conditions when the court is faster, while Djokovic prefers colder, slower nighttime conditions.
The order of play will be announced on Monday.
In the other quarter-final, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev will meet in the upper half of the draw.