Djokovic and Nadal have played 49 times so far with a 26-23 H2H advantage in favor of Djokovic prior to their scheduled 50th meeting today. Their rivalry is one of the greatest in the history of tennis and especially the Open Era. This rivalry took a form of its own after 2010 when Rafa-Roger rivalry had practically run its course. Until the end of the 2010 season Nadal dominated the rivalry with a 16-7 H2H in his favor, the tables however turned thereafter with Djokovic winning more of those battles and has in fact won last eleven of twelve between them. They have not only met in all slams but also in 4 consecutive slam finals and over 20 Master Series matches. Their meetings have produced master pieces such as the 2012 Australian Open final and 2013 French Open semi-final.
Similar playing styles
Their playing styles are somewhat similar with both playing from the base line, looking to grind the opponent down and constructing points rather than attempting to end them quickly. Nadal is way better than Djokovic at volleying and approaching the net but rarely makes a trip to that region, whereas Djokovic’s game, it seems, was honed to surpass or outdo Nadal’s and not, like Roger’s, counter it. Until the arrival of post 2010 Djokovic it was quite unimaginable that someone, and least of all Novak with his breathing and during-match retirement issues, would be able to outrun Nadal on the court but Djokovic has been giving Nadal lessons on “how to stretch points and outrun Nadal” over the last 5 years.
The outcome today
If Nadal can play closer to the base-line and approach the net whenever possible then he would put enough pressure to easily handle this error-prone version of Djokovic. However, Nadal still has the tendency to stand 10 feet behind the base line when pushed and Djokovic, with all his experience, just might be able to push Nadal enough to win his 8th consecutive meeting against him. This match with Nadal, we feel, could either help Djokovic regain his lost form and confidence or damage it further to stall any chances of its recovery during the clay season in the very least.
Therefore, this match is as open as the view from the top of Mount Everest, so let’s all sit back and enjoy some thrilling rallies with inhuman stretches and gets and superhuman shot making abilities from the baseline.