Novak Djokovic takes aim at Rafa Nadal after brutal French Open act

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, pictured here in action at the French Open.
Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic will battle for the 58th time in the French Open semi-final. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic will be out for revenge in his semi-final clash with Rafa Nadal at the French Open after the Spaniard humiliated him in the Roland Garros final last year.

Djokovic and Nadal will go to war in a blockbuster semi-final clash in Paris on Friday night to decide who progresses to the final.

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If Nadal prevails, he will get a chance to break the all-time men's record for grand slam singles titles he jointly shares with Roger Federer at 20.

For Djokovic, it will mean he gets the chance to grab his 19th major and edge closer to his two greatest rivals.

The victor will also book a 29th grand slam final appearance, behind only Federer on 31.

While Djokovic holds a narrow 29-28 head-to-head record against Nadal overall, it is 7-1 to Nadal at the French Open and an overwhelming 19-7 to the Spaniard at all clay-court events.

And that includes the absolute bloodbath that was the 2020 French Open final when Nadal blitzed Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5, handing him a rare bagel in the process.

It was the first time in Djokovic’s career that he had suffered the embarrassing fate in a grand slam final.

And the World No.1 still hasn't got last year's drubbing out of his mind either.

"He just dominated," said the Serb, remembering the humiliation of managing to win just seven games in the match.

But Djokovic also believed that heavy defeat is ancient history.

"The quality and the level of tennis that I've been playing in the last few weeks on clay - Rome, Belgrade and here - is giving me good sensations and feelings. I'm confident," Djokovic said.

"I believe I can win."

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, pictured here after the 2020 French Open final.
Rafael Nadal humiliated Novak Djokovic in the 2020 French Open final. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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The World No.1 also has some very unique history on his side in that he is one of just two men to beat Nadal at Roland Garros.

Robin Soderling famously knocked out Nadal in 2009, while Djokovic's only victory over the Spaniard at the French Open came six years ago in the quarter-finals.

Just two losses for Nadal in 107 matches for an absurd 105-2 record, including a record 13 French Open titles.

"It's not like any other match," Djokovic said.

"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 the final stages of a grand slam, it doesn't get bigger than that.

"When we face each other, there's that extra tension and expectations. Just vibes are different walking on the court with him.

"But that's why our rivalry has been historic for this sport. I'll probably pick Rafa as the biggest rival I've ever had in my career."

Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas meet in the other semi-final, with both chasing a maiden grand slam title.

with agencies

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