The latest chapter in the legendary rivalry between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic is set to take place on Friday in the semi-final of the French Open.
Whilst Nadal is the odds-on favourite, not only in this clash but to claim his 13th Roland Garros title, he will face an enormous test from Djokovic, the man he defeated in the 2020 final, but who he has also tasted defeat against on this surface before.
Their meeting in the 2015 quarter-final came a year after Nadal beat Djokovic in the last eight, with Djokovic gaining revenge in a stunning straight-sets victory.
In fact, Djokovic holds a slight advantage in terms of their overall head-to-head record on all surfaces, with his 29 victories eclipsing Nadal‘s 28.
Whilst Nadal has breezed through this Roland Garros tournament with a string of stunning performances, it has been a different story for Djokovic.
He struggled through his last two victories against Lorenzo Museti and Matteo Berrettini respectively, but he will be looking to turn his form around against Nadal.
“Djokovic always finds a way to escape and he is changing things up to try and spring a surprise,” said Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open winner.
Djokovic is fully aware of the daunting test that lies ahead, but he is relishing the battle.
“It is not just another match because he is the biggest rival of my career and to beat him here in Paris, on this surface, is the biggest challenge in tennis,” he said.
“There is always an extra tension. The vibrations when we go out onto the court are different.”
For Nadal, victory would be mean a final against either Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsipitas and a huge step towards a 21st Grand Slam.
However, Djokovic should not be counted out – after all, he has triumphed in this situation before.