13-time French Open winner, Rafael Nadal is set to face world number one Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the 2022 French Open on Tuesday. Nadal defeated Felix Auger-Aliasimme in a game of five sets to qualify for the next round, where he would now face his arch-rival, Djokovic.
Last year, both men met at the semifinals of the same tournament, where Djokovic managed to defeat the Spaniard and then went on to win the title. The loss was quite significant, given that the French Open is Nadal’s favourite. Before last year, Nadal maintained a four-year winning streak in the competition.
Very few matches manage to garner as much interest as this. Nadal, who is currently world number four, and the man with the most Grand Slam titles (21), has most of the time, triumphed in France. His 13 wins are all streaks. He won the title every year between 2005 and 2008. Then, he won it every year between 2010 and 2014. Again, he created another streak by winning it from 2017 to 2020. He has, over and over again, proved that he has mastery of the courts in France.
The same cannot be said for Djokovic, whose most Grand Slam victories come from the Australian Open. Still, he managed to defeat Nadal last year in such a crucial game, on his path to winning his second French Open title.
Out of the 58 times, the two players have squared off against each other, Djokovic has emerged the winner 30 times. However, Nadal has beaten him 7 times at the French Open, while Djokovic has won just 2. This alone proves that France is Nadal’s turf, and he is the favourite going into the match.
Still, Nadal recognises the challenge ahead of him. When asked how he felt ahead of the match, he said, “I haven’t played these kinds of matches for three months, so it is going to be a big challenge for me.” Maybe that is just him being humble. But it is quite far from how Djokovic feels: “I like the way I’ve been feeling, the way I’m hitting the ball. I’m ready.”
Written by: Leon Osamor