Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic epic streak of meetings to lapse in 2023

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have not met yet this year in competition and with the Spaniard injured it seems that an incredible tennis streak will lapse in 2023.

The superstars of their generation have met on the ATP Tour every year at least once since their first clash all the way back in 2006.

Djokovic and Nadal’s last competitive match was in the quarter-finals of the French Open in 2022.

In 2023 the two have only entered the same tournament once at the Australian Open, where Nadal picked up an injury in an early loss while Djokovic went on to tie the record for most Grand Slams by taking the title.

This rivalry has no equal in terms of the level of matches played and the sheer number.

Their incredible streak of meetings isn’t the only sequence at risk because of Nadal’s injury worries, with the Spaniard’s incredible run of winning at least one title for 19 straight years may not make it up to 20.

Nadal has won at least one tournament every year since 2004, but his streak is at risk as injury threatens to keep him off the court for much of 2023.

It still remains uncertain if Nadal will even take part in the French Open, something which seems incredible after last season when he won the title in Paris with a foot numbed by pain-killing injections.

Instead it looks like Djokovic might be in line to match Nadal’s 19-year run of being a titlist and possibly go on to break that record.

If Djokovic can come close to maintaining his level over the next few seasons it seems likely that he will leave his big three rivals in the dust when it comes to statistical greatness.

Tennis fans have truly been spoiled for having the incredible three-way rivalry between the games biggest stars over the last 20 years.

To date we have been treated to 59 Djokovic-Nadal matches with the Serbian holding the edge by just one match.

They met only once in 2022 with Djokovic absent from the Australian Open and US Open.

Nadal was on course for another clash with Djokovic at Wimbledon but after picking up an injury he pulled out of his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

They were also within a match of meeting at the 2022 Madrid Open but Carlos Alcaraz first beat Nadal and then knocked off Djokovic to announce his arrival as a big-match player.

The ending of some of Nadal’s longer streaks appear to be a sign that his career is winding down.

It doesn’t seem as though Djokovic is experiencing quite the same thing and he looks set for quite a few more epic clashes with the next generation of stars of the game.

Djokovic has held the edge over most players throughout his career, including just shading Nadal.

His attempts to hold off a group of young, hungry and incredibly talented players should capture the imagination of fans for the next few seasons.

We can only hope that Djokovic and Nadal meet in competitive matches quite a few more times before this incredible rivalry ends.

As for 2023, it seems that a meeting this year is highly unlikely and will require a u-turn from Nadal.

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