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Ladies and gents, Djodal #56 is here. The rivalriest rivalry in the history of tennis, between arguably the two greatest players to ever pick up a racquet. And their 56th meeting promises to be the most important one yet. Over the years these two have produced some of the most brilliant moments in tennis, both in terms of pure play on the court, and in terms of drama and emotion. Discuss your top 10 Djodal matches. I'll begin.

10. Wimbledon 2011 F: not the highest quality match ever, but the true arrival of BOATovic to the Grand Slam scene. Also marked Djokovic's first ascent to World No. 1 (now it seems inevitable he will hold the all-time week at #1 record).

9. Miami 2011 F: Blistering, high-quality hard-court tennis. The closest Nadal came to winning Miami, apart from 2005 Miami final.

8. RG 2012 F: Back then, nobody had ever accomplished the NCYGS. Federer had tried thrice and been denied by Nadal each time. Djokovic was going for it here, and in fact he'd beaten Nadal in the previous three Slam finals to boot. But Nadal denied him. Splendid match, fantastic quality in the first two-and-a-half sets. Nadal also overtook Borg to hit 7 RG with this win. Now he is going for #13!!!

7. Madrid 2011 F: Might surprise some with this pick, but I think it's one of the most important matches in their rivalry. Djokovic's first win over Nadal on clay. He has seven now, which is astonishing considering Nadal has a career 438-40 W/L on clay, so Nole accounts for almost 20% alone.

6. USO 2013 F: Brilliant hard-court tennis, some of the finest ever. Nadal's absolute peak as an all-court monster, capping a summer sweep that even HC legends Roger and Nole never accomplished. Amazing tennis, especially the third set.

5. Madrid 2009 SF: Not much to be said, IMO the greatest best-of-three match ever. Djo came so close to finally upending Nadal on clay but it would have to wait another two years. This match totally wrecked both men for the rest of 2009, Nadal lost at RG soon after and Djokovic had the worst year of his career till 2017.

4. WB 2018 SF: Peak grass-court tennis from two surprisingly fun-to-watch grasscourters. With this win Nole cemented his legacy as the mental giant of his era. Probably one of the most important matches of all time if you're into GOAT debates.

3. USO 2011 F: Despite being lopsided in some parts, this is probably the best pure-tennis match on the list. Go back and watch highlights, seriously. Some of the best tennis ever played on earth. They really elevated each other so high in this match, it perfectly captures the brutal nature of their rivalry.

2. RG 2013 SF: Captivating stuff. Lots of drama in that fifth set, and a pretty high-quality match overall. High up on the list mostly because of the drama factor, to be honest. But their best clay-court match, quality-wise, after the Madrid 2009 SF.

1. AO 2012 F: The longest GS final of all time, and what insane quality! The end of the fourth set from Nadal was otherworldly, and then Djoko's tenacity in the fifth was incredible. Remember this match took place when they were 24/25! Insane peak tennis from two physical and mental behemoths.
 

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10. 2013 Coupe Rogers semi-final, Montreal, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 36 76(2)

2013 has been a year when Rafa made an incredible comeback and arrived to compete at the North American HC swing with a lot of confidence. It was a high-quality HC match and remained tight until the end, but Rafa's HC level that summer proved to be too much - even for Djokovic.

9. 2011 Sony Ericsson Open final, Miami, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 46 63 76(4)

Both players were in spectacular form at the beginning of the season, Djokovic has won AO and beaten Rafa in Indian Wells final in the week before. Another inevitable final showdown again went Djokovic's way. The Serb prevailed in tough 3 sets, continuing his winning streak... it was only going to get better for him in 2011.

8. 2010 US Open final, New York City, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 57 64 62

The stakes were big for both players in this final but without a doubt, they were higher for Rafa, who had the chance to complete the long-coveted career slam. Djokovic had finally found his groove that season, which has been quite poor for his standards up until then. Rafa emerged on top after a very fun match filled with attractive rallies. The Spanish Bull completed the Career Slam and a stellar season, having won 3 out of 4 slams in 2010.

7. 2008 Olympic Games Beijing semi-finals, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 16 64

An extremely emotional match, and the one very different than their usual clashes - this time they played for Olympic glory, not just for themselves, but their countries as well. Rafa's unparalleled mental strength, tenacity, and the ability to retrieve every ball frustrated the young Djokovic who couldn't stand the pressure, thus Rafa clinched a hard-fought win, and eventually went on to win the gold medal.

6. 2009 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open semi-final, Madrid, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 36 76(5) 76(9)

Not much need be said about this clash in the Caja Magica in Madrid. It turned into a grueling war of attrition, with Djokovic going all out in his efforts to dethrone the King of Clay but the Spanish Bull was determined to fight tooth and nail to fend off this challenge to his hold over the red kingdom. Nadal proved almost invincible in the end but the match cost him the title and very likely the rest of the season as well.

5. 2011 US Open final, Grand Slam, New York City, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 64 67(3) 61

Djokovic just couldn't stop winning in 2011. Having beaten Rafa in the previous five encounters, including the one in the Wimbledon final, he was not about to stop there. From the onset, Rafa found himself in trouble, as it became clear that Djokovic was simply too strong to beat. However, Rafa's die-hard attitude ensured we got a memorable match. Some of the craziest rallies ever seen in tennis were produced in this hectic US Open final.

4. 2018 Wimbledon SF, grass, Djokovic d. Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-8

We were maybe unsure of what kind of a match we'd see as they hadn't played on grass since 2011 final. Moreover, Djokovic was still in the process of regaining his form after 2017 and Rafa has made his first SF at Wimbledon since 2011. They didn't disappoint. We enjoyed one of the most exciting clashes of all time, the drama was complete, it came to a couple of points which decided the match in Djokovic's favor.

3. 2013 Roland Garros semi-final, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 36 61 67(3) 97

Djokovic came painstakingly close to beating Rafa in his kingdom yet was denied once more by the King of Clay. One of the best matches ever played on the clay of Roland Garros had everything you'd want from a slam semi-final - and more.

2. 2013 US Open final, Grand Slam, New York City, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 36 64 61

If someone had told Rafa at the start of 2013 when he was playing Vina del Mar in Chile, having just returned to competitive tennis after a serious injury which caused him to miss two grand slams in a row, that he would be in the US Open final and on a 16 match winning streak on hard courts, he would have told them they're nuts. Yet, it happened. And in this final, Rafa had managed to inflict another defeat on his archrival in grand slam finals.

1. 2012 Australian Open final, Melbourne, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 57 64 62 67(5) 75

Maybe it doesn't rank as the best match of all time in terms of quality but this final was in many ways unique. Never has a tennis match turned into a total war of annihilation. For nearly 6 hours, the two players battled, point after point, through many ups and downs, trying to outwit, outgun and finally outlast each other when nothing else worked. It still makes me shiver with excitement and I still watch the highlights from time to time. Even though it was one of the most heartbreaking losses of Rafa's career it will just go down in history as the closest thing we ever came to a modern version of a gladiatorial fight.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
10. 2013 Coupe Rogers semi-final, Montreal, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 36 76(2)

2013 has been a year when Rafa made an incredible comeback and arrived to compete at the North American HC swing with a lot of confidence. It was a high-quality HC match and remained tight until the end, but Rafa's HC level that summer proved to be too much - even for Djokovic.

9. 2011 Sony Ericsson Open final, Miami, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 46 63 76(4)

Both players were in spectacular form at the beginning of the season, Djokovic has won AO and beaten Rafa in Indian Wells final in the week before. Another inevitable final showdown again went Djokovic's way. The Serb prevailed in tough 3 sets, continuing his winning streak... it was only going to get better for him in 2011.

8. 2010 US Open final, New York City, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 57 64 62

The stakes were big for both players in this final but without a doubt, they were higher for Rafa, who had the chance to complete the long-coveted career slam. Djokovic had finally found his groove that season, which has been quite poor for his standards up until then. Rafa emerged on top after a very fun match filled with attractive rallies. The Spanish Bull completed the Career Slam and a stellar season, having won 3 out of 4 slams in 2010.

7. 2008 Olympic Games Beijing semi-finals, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 16 64

An extremely emotional match, and the one very different than their usual clashes - this time they played for Olympic glory, not just for themselves, but their countries as well. Rafa's unparalleled mental strength, tenacity, and the ability to retrieve every ball frustrated the young Djokovic who couldn't stand the pressure, thus Rafa clinched a hard-fought win, and eventually went on to win the gold medal.

6. 2009 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open semi-final, Madrid, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 36 76(5) 76(9)

Not much need be said about this clash in the Caja Magica in Madrid. It turned into a grueling war of attrition, with Djokovic going all out in his efforts to dethrone the King of Clay but the Spanish Bull was determined to fight tooth and nail to fend off this challenge to his hold over the red kingdom. Nadal proved almost invincible in the end but the match cost him the title and very likely the rest of the season as well.

5. 2011 US Open final, Grand Slam, New York City, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 64 67(3) 61

Djokovic just couldn't stop winning in 2011. Having beaten Rafa in the previous five encounters, including the one in the Wimbledon final, he was not about to stop there. From the onset, Rafa found himself in trouble, as it became clear that Djokovic was simply too strong to beat. However, Rafa's die-hard attitude ensured we got a memorable match. Some of the craziest rallies ever seen in tennis were produced in this hectic US Open final.

4. 2018 Wimbledon SF, grass, Djokovic d. Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-8

We were maybe unsure of what kind of a match we'd see as they hadn't played on grass since 2011 final. Moreover, Djokovic was still in the process of regaining his form after 2017 and Rafa has made his first SF at Wimbledon since 2011. They didn't disappoint. We enjoyed one of the most exciting clashes of all time, the drama was complete, it came to a couple of points which decided the match in Djokovic's favor.

3. 2013 Roland Garros semi-final, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 36 61 67(3) 97

Djokovic came painstakingly close to beating Rafa in his kingdom yet was denied once more by the King of Clay. One of the best matches ever played on the clay of Roland Garros had everything you'd want from a slam semi-final - and more.

2. 2013 US Open final, Grand Slam, New York City, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 36 64 61

If someone had told Rafa at the start of 2013 when he was playing Vina del Mar in Chile, having just returned to competitive tennis after a serious injury which caused him to miss two grand slams in a row, that he would be in the US Open final and on a 16 match winning streak on hard courts, he would have told them they're nuts. Yet, it happened. And in this final, Rafa had managed to inflict another defeat on his archrival in grand slam finals.

1. 2012 Australian Open final, Melbourne, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 57 64 62 67(5) 75

Maybe it doesn't rank as the best match of all time in terms of quality but this final was in many ways unique. Never has a tennis match turned into a total war of annihilation. For nearly 6 hours, the two players battled, point after point, through many ups and downs, trying to outwit, outgun and finally outlast each other when nothing else worked. It still makes me shiver with excitement and I still watch the highlights from time to time. Even though it was one of the most heartbreaking losses of Rafa's career it will just go down in history as the closest thing we ever came to a modern version of a gladiatorial fight.
2013 Montreal SF also featured the infamous attack by Rafael on Novak's head at the net. Novak overreacted as he usually does and Rafa was like what-ever, sister! Great match, definitely worthy of being on a top 10 list. Interesting that you place the 2013 USO final so high. For my money it is definitely Nadal's most "exceeds expectations" performance against Djokovic. OTOH, Djokovic's most "exceeds expectations" performance against Nadal must be the 2019 AO final.
 

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Great thread, great reply by Rafanaticism.

For me, the 2012 AO finals was the best, but they also had many other great matches. 2013 RG semis, 2018 Wimbledon semis, 2014 RG finals, 2009 Madrid semis, 2014 Rome finals, all of their 2011 finals.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Great thread, great reply by Rafanaticism.

For me, the 2012 AO finals was the best, but they also had many other great matches. 2013 RG semis, 2018 Wimbledon semis, 2014 RG finals, 2009 Madrid semis, 2014 Rome finals, all of their 2011 finals.
The 2014 RG final is a really good pick. It has been lost among the dozens of epics they've given us. But it has such a great story, that match. That was the first season when Nadal's dominance over the clay season really broke. Those of us watching back then remember how unquestioned his grip over MC-Barcelona-Madrid-Rome-RG was. If I'm not wrong he lost a total of 8 matches on clay (7 on red clay lol) between 2005 and 2013. That's just stupid. In 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 he won 4 out of the 5 big clay tourneys. In 2009 and 2011 he won 3 out of 5. Unreal stuff. But in 2014 this all began to fall apart. He lost early in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, something that had never happened since he was 17 years old. Then he barely won Madrid after Nishikori injured himself in the final (as usual). And he lost to Djoko at Rome. People legitimately believed it was the end of the Nadal clay era. Especially because this chain of events happened after the AO 2014 loss to Stanimal. Nadal's body had finally cracked, and Djoko finally had a chance to win RG.

Of course at RG Nadal bulldozed his way to the final (totally destroyed an early Clayray in the semis). Djoko, full of confidence, was waiting. Djoko started super strong, and midway through set 2 it looked like Nadal was gonna be down 0-2. But he fought back, like he always does, and snatched the second set miraculously. The momentum had shifted, and vintage Nadal came out and stormed through to his 9th RG. This was also his 14th Slam, tying him with Sampras.

Still remarkable that he ended up with 12 RG alone. Boggles the mind.
 

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This is my favorite matchup in tennis, for they bring out the best in each other and produce the best baseline tennis in the sport's history, by some margin. Their most entertaining matches happened when both were in their physical primes, between roughly 2011 and 2014, but it's still a fun matchup to watch, though it looks very different today. AO 2012, Madrid 2009, FO 2013, and USO 2011 (this match had the best baseline tennis in history, even if the scoreline wasn't that dramatic) are probably my favorite matches.

There are so many epic matches between these two. Hopefully Sunday produces another one.
 

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Bring on match 56 of the Nadal vs Djokovic rivalry - glad to still see these 2 battling it out on the biggest stages.

I have a top 6 favourites list of their rivalry (coincidentally it:
1. 2018 Wimbledon SF - the de facto final, start of Novak's comeback after he had been in a slump for 2 years and Rafa finally back in a Wimbledon semi for the first time since 2011, the 8pm start on the Friday which forced the match to be continued on the Saturday

2. 2013 French Open SF - one of the best clay-court matches I have watched, Rafa should have finished off Novak in 4 sets, but the way Novak fought back to force the tiebreak in the 4th set and win it to send the match into a 5th set, Rafa was down a break early in the 5th but unleashing forehand winners like it was nothing, Novak running into the net trying to putaway an overhead...that point really shifted the momentum into Rafa's favour and he edged it 9-7 in the 5th

3. 2011 Miami F - Indian Wells F just 2 weeks prior was the first time that Novak had ever beaten Rafa in a final of any tournament, all eyes were on Novak to see if he could back up his win in Indian Wells

4. 2008 Olympics SF - very enjoyable match, a shame this was best of 3 sets instead of best of 5 sets, Novak deserved to at least win a silver medal, credit to Rafa for winning the gold medal

5. 2008 Queens F - underrated match, wished it had gone to a 3rd set but Rafa played much better on the big points

6. 2008 Hamburg SF - first battle between these two with a ranking on the line (Rafa had to fight off Novak in a tough 3 setter to stay #2)
 
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2. 2013 US Open final, Grand Slam, New York City, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 36 64 61

If someone had told Rafa at the start of 2013 when he was playing Vina del Mar in Chile, having just returned to competitive tennis after a serious injury which caused him to miss two grand slams in a row, that he would be in the US Open final and on a 16 match winning streak on hard courts, he would have told them they're nuts. Yet, it happened. And in this final, Rafa had managed to inflict another defeat on his archrival in grand slam finals.
Just a small correction, I think Nadal was on a 21 match winning streak on hard courts before the USO final, he also won IW (with 1 walkover).
EDIT: On second thought, maybe you meant a 16 match overall winning streak just happening to be on hard courts, in that case never mind. Great summary overall, makes me want to rewatch the highlights again:)
 

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Its hard to compare slams to smaller tournaments, so I will give them rakings separately.
Majors:
5. USO 2010 F: I think it was slightly better than their 2013 meeting, djokovic played really well but nadal was simply unplayable in that tournament.
4. USO 2011 F: Maybe I am a bit biased but I think this match had a better quality than their other USO meetings, some PlayStation rallies, the 3rd set was nuts. Too bad they never had a 5 setter classic in the open, it could have been an instant all time classic.
3. Wimbledon 2018 SF: Beautiful tennis, the match was intense and both brought marvelous tennis onto the court. This match showed that djokovic is finally back at full force.
2. RG 2013 SF: it was a devastating lose at the time, but this is undeniably one of their best matches, and maybe one of the best clay court matches ever. Novak played out of his skin, he would have won against any other opponent on that day but nadal is nadal.
1. AO 2012 F: the epitome of gladiator battles, they were killing each other on the court for 6 hours. Definitely a match for the ages, they showed unreal physicality and fitness there.

ATP matches:
Honestly, I don't have rankings for them, the 2 that stand out the most are the Miami 2011 final and the Madrid 2009 semifinal. Both were sensational matches.

Here is hoping for their 56th meeting to enter this discussion.
 
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Wow, great lists here. Maybe I'll think of mine later, I think I missed just a few out of their 55 matches.
 

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Great retrospective of their rivalry, and most of the matches I wanted to mention are already cover. So, I will only add my favorite moment of 56 Rafole matches

It's Miami 2011, TB in 3rd set, more than 3 hours of punishment for both up to this point. After one incredible grueling point, I saw something I've never seen before. Nadal bending and grasping for air, while Nole on other side is jumping in place like the match just started. From this perspective, it may not look that unusual, but up to 2011 Nole was the one usually beaten up and having problem breathing and Nadal was famous for running out from his chair like a bullet after x hours of play, just showing he never gets tired.

Having seen the scenario completely flipped left me in disbelief.
 

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Note how there's a grand total of one epic from the last 7 years. Djoedoll lost its gladiatordom since, having been largely a bunch of reverse pwnages.
 

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Great retrospective of their rivalry, and most of the matches I wanted to mention are already cover. So, I will only add my favorite moment of 56 Rafole matches

It's Miami 2011, TB in 3rd set, more than 3 hours of punishment for both up to this point. After one incredible grueling point, I saw something I've never seen before. Nadal bending and grasping for air, while Nole on other side is jumping in place like the match just started. From this perspective, it may not look that unusual, but up to 2011 Nole was the one usually beaten up and having problem breathing and Nadal was famous for running out from his chair like a bullet after x hours of play, just showing he never gets tired.

Having seen the scenario completely flipped left me in disbelief.
Yeah it's curious how Novak upped his endurance massively to superhuman levels in a span of several months.
 

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Relived some of these on YT this morning. Great thread!
 

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I don't have 10 epics, just the 5 best ever:
5. 2018 WB
4. 2009 Madrid
3. 2013 RG
2. 2012 AO
1. 2011 USO
 
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