Fixture: (1) Novak Djokovic vs (3) Rafael Nadal
Date: 11 June 2021
Tournament: Roland Garros 2021
Venue: Paris, France
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Red Clay
Prize money: €17,171,108
Live telecast: USA – NBC Sports / Tennis Channel | UK – ITV | India – Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal preview
Rafael Nadal will continue his quest for a record-breaking 14th Roland Garros crown against arch-rival Novak Djokovic in the semifinals on Friday.
Nadal looked in imperious form at the start of his campaign in Paris, winning his first four matches without dropping a set. He looked set for another straightforward victory when he took the opening set of his quarterfinal clash with Diego Schwartzman.
However, the Argentine hit back and took the second 6-4 — the first set Nadal had lost at this year’s tournament.
The Spaniard regained his rhythm midway through the third set and broke Schwartzman in the ninth game, before serving out the set to love. It was one-way traffic from thereon as Nadal bagelled the Argentine in the fourth set to register his 105th victory in the claycourt Grand Slam.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic enjoyed a similarly comfortable start to his week in Paris with three straight-sets wins.
The Serb then survived an almighty scare in the fourth round against Lorenzo Musetti, battling back from a two-set deficit to claim a five-set victory. The Italian was forced to withdraw while trailing 4-0 in the deciding set, giving the World No. 1 safe passage into the last eight.
Djokovic then put in a comprehensive display against Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals, taking the first two sets with ease. The Serb, however, dropped a third-set tiebreaker to the Italian as the momentum seemed to be swinging Berrettini’s way.
Play was halted to remove fans from the stadium due to the COVID-19 curfew requirements in Paris and when it resu, Djokovic hit top gear again. He put pressure on Berrettini’s service games and the Italian eventually cracked while serving to stay in the match at 5-6.
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal head-to-head
Novak Djokovic marginally leads the head-to-head against Rafael Nadal 29-28. However, the Serb trails the Spaniard 7-1 at Roland Garros, with his lone victory coming in 2015.
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal prediction
Novak Djokovic will be looking for some good old-fashioned revenge against Nadal, who defeated the Serb in last year’s final for the loss of just seven games. Djokovic was simply pulverized by the Spaniard in that meeting and had no answer for Nadal’s heavy groundstrokes.
He will be hoping for a different outcome this time around. Djokovic will need to open up the court with his angled crosscourt shots and also use the dropshot to get Nadal off the baseline. The Serb’s first serve, which has earned him a lot of free points thus far, will need to fire if he is to upstage the “King of Clay” in his favourite hunting ground.
Nadal has been scintillating from the back of the court, striking 86 winners over the course of the tournament thus far. The Spaniard, however, has struggled with his serve, double-faulting at crucial moments and missing his spots altogether.
Against Djokovic, who is widely considered the best returner on tour, Nadal will need to make major improvements.
Having said that, Nadal usually irons out all the chinks in his game by the time he meets top players at the business end of Grand Slams. The Spaniard has never lost at this stage in Paris and should once again have enough in the tank to come through.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in five sets.