Djokovic vs. Nadal – Who will win the Grand Slam battle for supremacy?

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - Roger Federer makes his choice

Arguably one of the most fascinating duels in modern tennis, every encounter between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has fans and pundits on the edge of their seats. The single most prolific rivalry in modern tennis, even overshadowing the historic Federer-Nadal rivalry, there’s always plenty to talk about whenever the Serbian and Spanish superstars take to the courts.

Duelling for dominance in 2019, both of these spectacular players are setting their sights on reigning supreme at the four major ATP tournaments this year. Of course, Djokovic already has the upper hand after winning the Australian Open in Melbourne, while Nadal is the habitual King of Clay at the French Open, but with Wimbledon and the US Open yet to come, this phenomenal rivalry continues to thrive and thrill tennis fans around the world.

Australian Open

Back in January, Djokovic claimed a thrilling straight sets final victory (6-3, 6-2, 6-3) against Nadal, landing the first Grand Slam title of 2019 at the Australian Open and lifting the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for a record seventh time. With this triumph, the Serbian surpassed the record he jointly held with Swiss superstar Roger Federer, who had won the previous two hard court championships, and Australian tennis legend Roy Emerson, who triumphed six times between 1961 and 1967 when the tournament was still played on a grass surface.

Despite the fierce rivalry between the two players, Nadal sportingly congratulated Djokovic for his impressive victory in Melbourne, while Djokovic respectfully praised the “fighting spirit” of Nadal, with the Spaniard having endured a tough period of bouncing back from a series of injury problems. Indeed, the Australian Open was the first tournament appearance for Nadal since the US Open last year.

French Open

Currently competing in the second ATP Grand Slam tournament of the year, Djokovic and Nadal seem almost certain to lock horns again on the clay of Roland-Garros. Boasting a remarkable run of eleven French Open titles during his career, Nadal is the clear 4/5 outright favourite to reign supreme yet again as the King of Clay. Djokovic has won the tournament just once, in 2016, when Nadal had to withdraw early due to a wrist injury that year. However, another duel in Paris seems likely with both enjoying peak form in 2019.

French Open encounters between the pair on the famous clay surface at Roland-Garros, have become legendary. The 2012 final saw Nadal win the physical and mental battle, in a match repeatedly interrupted by rain. In 2013 the semifinal clash produced one of the greatest clay court matches ever seen, with Nadal winning after Djokovic had been a whisker away from triumph. Nevertheless, Djokovic exacted revenge in 2015 by ending Nadal’s 39 match winning streak at the tournament, with a straight sets quarterfinal victory.

Wimbledon Championships

Although it’s impossible to rule out veteran Swiss star Roger Federer, who still boasts the all-time record of eight Wimbledon titles, both Nadal with two and Djokovic with four, will be keen to add to their tally. Of course, Djokovic has been one of the dominant figures on the hallowed turf in London over recent years, with the current reigning champion having won four titles from the last eight Championships. The first of those came against Nadal in 2011, which is also the last time the Spaniard reached the tournament final.

Djokovic emerged victorious in the semifinal clash with Nadal in 2018, although the Spaniard was unhappy with that match taking place over two days, along with the Centre Court roof being closed on the second day. This has prompted Wimbledon to introduce rule changes, with the weather being the only deciding factor as to whether the roof is open or closed, from 2019 onwards.

US Open

The fourth Grand Slam tournament of the tennis season, there’s plenty of history between Djokovic and Nadal at the US Open, with both players having been the dominance forces on the hard courts in New York over the last decade. Just to spice things up a little more, both are winners of the last two titles, with Nadal winning his third US open in 2017 against Kevin Anderson, while current reigning champion Djokovic secured his third title against Juan Martin del Potro in 2018.

Earlier in the decade and with the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry in full swing, it was the Spaniard who claimed his first US Open title, with victory against the Serbian in the 2010 final over four sets. The following year, Djokovic returned the favour by beating Nadal in the 2011 final. Nadal still claims the bragging rights from the last final appearance between the pair in 2013, beating Djokovic over four sets. The dynamic duo will undoubtedly be amongst the favourites for glory this coming August, when the next tournament starts in New York.