Tennis is a sport that thrives on rivalries. Evert and Navratilova, Borg and McEnroe, Graf and Seles, Sampras and Agassi, Federer and Nadal have been the most talked about rivalries in the sport. However in the last 10 years there has been another rivalry that has peaked and now counts among the best in tennis history. Nadal and Djokovic have 35 slams between them 28 of which were won since 2010. This rivalry has truly been the most dominant one in last decade in Men’s tennis.
Nadal and Djokovic have played some of the greatest matches of history in the last 10 years. The Australian Open final of 2012 remains the best ever that the 2 legends have contested. A 5 hour 53 minute epic this match still remains the best final ever played on Rod Laver Arena and some call it the greatest ever in tennis history.
In 2013 Rafa and Novak gave us another match of a lifetime at Roland Garros semi-final. The 5 set pulsating contest lasted 4 hours and 37 minutes and till the very end remained very even. The sheer physicality of such matches made adrenaline drivers for every tennis fan.
Like Evert and Navratilova in Women’s tennis, Novak and Rafa are the only major rivals who have played the final of every Grand Slam. They have met in 2 times in the Australian Open final, once in Wimbledon final, 3 US Open finals and 2 finals at Roland Garros.
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Rafa and Novak have now contested 54 matches among themselves, which is about 14 more than the Fedal rivalry and 2nd only to Evert and Navratilova rivalry. They have also played each other in every Masters 1000 tournaments except the Shanghai Master as well as the Olympics. This element of diversity adds another feature to this great rivalry.
Grand Slam and World Number 1 Race
In the past 10 years Novak has finished the World Number 1 for 5 years. Rafa follows very closely with 4 years. So 9 of the last 10 year end World Number 1s have been taken by these two giants. They have also won 28 of the last 40 slams contested.
Both Rafa and Novak are in good position to overcome Roger Federer’s Grand Slam haul. With both the giants having a few more years left in their career, when it is all said and done, this is the rivalry that may eventually come out as greatest ever in Men’s tennis.