Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal: Ranking their best matches after French Open classic


Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played a clay-court thriller at the French Open last night with the Serb going on to win in four sets.

In a match that lasted over four hours, we witnessed some spectacular tennis with the Spaniard suffering only his third defeat at Roland Garros in his entire playing career.

After losing the first set 6-3, Djokovic came back to take the other three 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 to reach his sixth French Open final.

Nadal and Djokovic are easily two of the greatest players to ever grace a tennis court. Across 15 years, the two have had the most prolific rivalry in the Open Era as far as men's tennis is concerned, meeting 58 times. Djokovic currently leads 30-28 after yesterday's win.

We have seen some sensational matches between both players, be it in Grand Slams or any other competition. So, without any further ado, let's take a look at the top 10 matches between Nadal and Djokovic, as ranked by ESPN.

10. 2014 French Open Final; 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 to Nadal

Nadal was having a great tournament at Roland Garros that year, having lost just one set en route to the final. While he sailed past Andy Murray in the semi-finals, Djokovic had to fight against Latvian Ernests Gulbis. However, the Serb started the final strongly and took the first set 6-3. From then onwards, it was Nadal's game to lose as he won the next three sets 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 to claim his ninth French Open crown.

9. 2011 Miami Masters Final; 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to Djokovic

Nadal and Djokovic were the top two seeds entering the tournament. The former defeated rival Roger Federer to enter his third Miami final. Djokovic had a cakewalk in almost each game, winning every set. The Serb beat local boy Mardy Fish to reach what was his third Miami final as well. Nadal started well and took the first set 6-4. However, Djokovic fought back by taking the second 6-3. The deciding set was tightly contested with neither looking to back down. In the end, Djokovic won 7-6 to win his second Miami Masters title.


8. 2011 Wimbledon Final; 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 to Djokovic

The pair locked horns in six finals that year, but the biggest one of them all was at Wimbledon. Both won their semi-finals in four sets with then-reigning champion Nadal beating Andy Murray while Djokovic got the better of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. In the final, the Serb got off to a flyer and took the first two sets 6-4, 6-1. Nadal came back strongly in the third, claiming it 6-1, but Djokovic was just too good that day and won the fourth set 6-3 to win his first Wimbledon crown and become the new World No.1.

7. 2010 US Open Final; 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to Nadal

The year 2010 was probably Nadal's best of his career as he won the French Open and Wimbledon. He was the favourite entering the US Open and did not drop a single set en route to the final. Djokovic had a tough battle against Federer in the semis, but prevailed to reach his second US Open final. Nadal won the first set 6-4, but his opponent rallied back to take the second by the same scoreline. The Spaniard then breezed in the third and fourth to win his first US Open crown.

6. 2012 French Open Final; 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to Nadal

The Spaniard had little trouble reaching the Roland Garros final that year, but Djokovic had a couple tough games against Andreas Seppi in the fourth round and Tsonga in the quarters. Nadal started the final strongly, taking the first two sets 6-4, 6-3. Djokovic fought back to take the third 6-2 and put in a fight in the fourth. However, Nadal prevailed 7-5 to win his seventh French Open crown.


5. 2021 French Open semi-finals; 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 to Djokovic

Yesterday's match ranks fifth on this list. Nadal started greatly by taking the first set 6-3, but Djokovic, at his absolute best, took the second by the same scoreline. The third one was a toughie, but the Serb held his nerve to win 7-6 before winning the fourth set 6-2 in order to reach his sixth French Open final, where he will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas.

4. 2009 Madrid Masters semi-finals; 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 to Nadal

The two played one of the greatest clay-court matches of all time that year. Djokovic took the first set 6-3, but Nadal held his nerve to take the next two via tiebreakers to reach the final. The Spaniard didn't seem at his best in the final and was beaten by Roger Federer in straight sets.

3. 2018 Wimbledon semi-finals; 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 10-8 to Djokovic

In one of the greatest Wimbledon matches of all time, the Serb had to go through Nadal in a match that lasted five hours and 15 minutes. He then got the better of South African Kevin Anderson in the final to win his fourth Wimbledon crown.

2. 2013 French Open semi-finals; 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 to Nadal

This was the year when it looked like Djokovic would get his hands on the French Open trophy. However, Nadal had other plans. He took out the Serb in a thrilling five-setter to reach the final. Here, he defeated Ferrer to claim his eighth French Open crown.


1. 2012 Australian Open Final; 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 to Djokovic

Yea, you guessed it. Which other match can it be? In five hours and 53 minutes, the two played perhaps the greatest greatest Grand Slam final of all time. Nadal called this "the greatest loss of his career". Interestingly, this would be the only final between the two that Djokovic won that year.

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