French Open 2021: Can Novak Djokovic dethrone Rafael Nadal as 'King of Clay'?
Novak Djokovic of Serbia is the reigning world number one, while Spain’s Rafael Nadal is the 13-time defending champion. The Serbian had defeated the Spaniard just one at the tournament, and it would be interesting to see if it happens again.
In what could be considered the most anticipated semi-final of the 2021 French Open, reigning world number one, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, takes on 13-time defending champion Spain’s Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros on Friday. It would be their seventh clash at the event.
Undoubtedly, Nadal has been the king so far on clay against Djokovic, leading 19-7, while he also leads at the Slam 7-1, with his only loss coming in the 2015 quarters (7-5 6-3 6-1). Overall, the Serbian has a 29-28 lead, thus implying how close the competition has been between the two legends.
The two last met in the 2020 final, where the Spaniard outplayed him in straight sets (6-0, 6-2, 7-5). It was a sorry outing for Djokovic, as the result left him completely demoralised for the following few months. While he would be looking to forget it, payback would undoubtedly be at the back of his mind.
In a couple of interesting stats, the two have clashed head-to-head on most occasions (58*) in the Open Era. Also, if Djokovic qualifies for the final, he would become the joint-second most to qualify for the same along with Bjorn Borg, while Nadal leads the chart with 13.
Djokovic: I’m confident. I believe I can win; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. It’s not like any other match. 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 his career. In the final stages of a Grand Slam, it doesn’t get bigger than that.
Nadal: You need to play your best tennis. It’s a match that you know what you have to do if you really want to have chances to succeed and to keep going on the tournament. [It is] always a big challenge. That’s something that is good because, in some way, we are practising, we are living the sport for these moments.
We know each other well. Everybody knows that in these kind of matches, anything can happen. The player who is playing better that day is the player that is going to have better chances. That’s it. Probably if that happens, [it is] going to be an important match for both of us.
(As told to ATP)
Date and day: June 11, 2021 (Friday)
Venue: Stade Roland Garros, Paris
Time: 9 PM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): Star Sports Select 1 (Also available in HD)
Where to watch (Online): Hotstar
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