The Djokovic v Nadal rivalry: Who is the GOAT?

The Djokovic v Nadal rivalry is undoubtedly one of the greatest in the history of men’s tennis. 
The duo have battled it out for more than 15 years, making the rivalry one of the most prolific in history.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced each other 59 times, with Djokovic leading 30-29. 

The tennis world has seen incredible rivalries such as Federer v Nadal, Sampras v Agassi and Djokovic v Nadal rivalry. 

But where does the Djokovic v Nadal rivalry stand among the greatest tennis rivalries? Since its beginning, this rivalry has been remarkable due to a spree of titanic tussles.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Photo/ Planet Sport.

The duo have battled it out for more than 15 years, making the rivalry one of the most prolific in history. When Novak Djokovic started, Rafael Nadal had already made a name for himself in the tennis world. 

It took time before Djokovic had his own fanbase and build a fearsome rivalry with Rafael Nadal. 

Some of their matches, such as the 2009 Madrid Masters semi-final, are ranked among the best tennis matches in history. 

Long-time tennis pundits, former tennis players, analysts and legends of the sport lauded their 2012 Australian Open final as the greatest match ever. 

Head-to-Head Games

At the time of publishing this article, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced each other 59 times. Of their meetings, 27 have been on hard courts, 28 on grass and four on clay. 

The duo first met at the 2006 French Open in the quarter-finals, where Rafael Nadal prevailed after Djokovic retired with an injury. 

Their first encounter was at the finals of the 2007 Indian Wells Masters. Rafael Nadal emerged victorious. The duo met again at the 2007 Miami Masters, where Djokovic won. 

In 2007, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic faced each other seven times. Nadal emerged victorious five times, whereas his rival won just two of their matches. 

The two tennis stars met six times in 2008, with Rafael Nadal winning four of the encounters. The rivalry continued in 2009 as they met seven times, Rafael Nadal winning five of the encounters. 

In 2010, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met twice, the former winning both encounters.

The Djokovic v Nadal rivalry took a different turn in 2011 as Novak Djokovic won all six encounters that year. Nadal took his revenge the following year as he won three of the four encounters. 

Their six meetings in 2013 ended with three victories each. Novak Djokovic won the first two of their three encounters in 2014. 

Djokovic dominated in 2015, as he won all four matches they played. The Serbian international once again proved to be a force to reckon with in 2016 as he won all three encounters.

The Djokovic-Nadal rivalry. Photo/ Tennis Majors.

Rafael Nadal reversed the losing trend in 2017 as he defeated Novak Djokovic in the Madrid Open semi-finals. Nadal and Djokovic faced each other twice in 2018. 

Nadal won the first encounter, while a resurgent Djokovic won the second encounter at Wimbledon.

In 2019, Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. Later that year, Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open after two hours and 25 minutes. 

Novak Djokovic claimed a win at their first encounter in 2020 at the ATP Cup. Nadal redeemed himself as he won in their second encounter of the year at the French Open. 

Rafael Nadal won their first encounter in 2021 at the Italian Open. Novak Djokovic upset the Spanish international when they met again in 2021 at the French Open. 

The pair have met only once since the start of 2022. Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in a four-hour battle at the French Open. 

Who Is The GOAT? 

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced each other 59 times, with Djokovic leading 30-29. 

Novak Djokovic leads 15-13 in the finals of all levels, whereas Rafael Nadal leads 11-7 at majors. Djokovic is leading 2-1 at the US Open, while Nadal is leading 8-2 at the French Open. 

Novak Djokovic is also leading at the Australian Open (2-o) and Wimbledon (2-1). 

Rafael Nadal, currently ranked world No. 2 in singles by the ATP, has won 92 ATP singles titles. Novak Djokovic, currently ranked world No. 2, has won 90 ATP singles titles. 

It is impossible to rank these two stars and establish who is the GOAT, especially because their careers are not yet over. 

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