Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are set to resume their incredible rivalry on court on Sunday when they face off for the 53rd time in the Australian Open final.
Both men have eased through the tournament so far, with Djokovic booking his place in the last two thanks to a straight sets victory over Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
The Serb, who edges Nadal 27-25 in the head-to-head record, has dropped just two sets in the entire competition, with the world number one chasing his 15th Grand Slam title.
Spaniard Nadal is looking to make it Grand Slam number 18 on Sunday, with the 32-year-old defeating Roger Federer’s conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final 6-2 6-4 6-0.
Nadal perhaps goes into the final on Sunday as a slight favourite after failing to drop a set in the competition so far, producing some incredible tennis in Melbourne along the way.
The pair have both played their part in some classic matches during their careers, so here at Read Tennis, we’ve decided to take a look back at 10 classic encounters between two of the best to have ever graced the court.
2008 Beijing Olympics
The 14th meeting between Nadal and Djokovic came in the semi-final of the 2008 Olympic Games. The aggressive match lasted just over two hours and went to a third and deciding set, with the semi-final finishing at 12.21am local time. Nadal eventually triumphed in China 6-4 1-6 6-4 and went on to defeat Fernando Gonzalez in the final to claim the gold medal, while Djokovic secured the bronze medal after coming out on top against American James Blake.
2009 Madrid Open semi-final
One of the first intense meetings between the pair came in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open back in 2009. Despite the match being a best-of-three format, the epic encounter lasted four hours, with Nadal saving three match points before defeating Djokovic in a deciding set 3-6 7-6 7-6. The lengthy semi-final seemed to have taken it out of Nadal, with Roger Federer ending the Spaniard’s 33-match winning streak on clay in the final.
2010 US Open Final
The first Grand Slam final between the pair proved to be a dramatic one. The final was played a day later than scheduled due to the weather, however, the delay didn’t stop Nadal and Djokovic serving up a classic. After three hours and 43 minutes of compelling tennis, Nadal claimed a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 win and became the youngest man of modern times to complete the career Grand Slam at the age of 24 years and three months.
2011 Miami Open Final
A year after their classic in New York, the duo met again in the final of the Miami Open. This time it was Djokovic’s day to remember, with the Serb claiming the title after a gruelling 4-6 6-3 7-6 win which lasted almost four hours. The win also extended Djokovic’s unbeaten run in 2011 to 24-0, which at the time, was the best start to a year in men’s tennis since Ivan Lendl began with 25 consecutive victories in 1986. Djokovic eventually lost in the French Open semi-finals to Roger Federer in June after a 41-match winning streak.
2011 US Open Final
Djokovic’s year in 2011 has been regarded as one of the greatest seasons ever in men’s tennis. The Serb met Nadal in six finals and defeated him in every single one, with the last coming at the US Open. Djokovic was made to work extremely hard to claim his third Grand Slam of the year, with several astonishing rallies throughout the match. After four sets lasting four hours and 10 minutes, Djokovic prevailed 6-2 6-4 6-7 6-1.
2012 Australian Open Final
Seven years ago, Nadal and Djokovic faced off in the Australian Open final, with the encounter still holding the record for the longest Grand Slam final ever played. The pair battled on court in five astonishing sets which lasted five hours and 53 minutes, with Djokovic eventually claiming the crown with a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5 victory. The final overtook the record previously set by the 1988 US Open Final between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl.
2013 French Open semi-final
Just a year on from their classic in Australia, Nadal claimed his revenge by defeating the Serb in the 2013 French Open semi-final. The Spaniard saw off Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 9-7 in four hours and 37 minutes in a match which had everything. The final against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer was more straightforward for Nadal, who claimed his eighth French Open title with a 6-3 6-2 6-3 win.
2014 Italian Open Final
Despite Nadal’s daunting record on clay, Djokovic won his third Italian Open title against the Spaniard, avenging the French Open semi-final defeat in the process. The tight contest saw Nadal claim the first set, before Djokovic took the next two to win 4-6 6-3 6-3. Incredibly, Nadal also failed to produce an ace in the final, compared to Djokovic’s seven, however, their rivalry on clay wouldn’t be finished there.
2014 French Open Final
Nadal defended his French Open title for a record fifth year in a row by defeating Djokovic in 2014. In extreme heat, Djokovic surprisingly eased to a one set lead, however, Nadal turned on the style to claim the next three to win 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 in three hours and 31 minutes. The win over Djokovic extended the Spaniard’s remarkable run at Roland Garros to 66 wins and just one defeat between 2004-2014.
2018 Wimbledon semi-final
The pair’s last meeting came last summer in a remarkable Wimbledon semi-final which lasted five hours and 16 minutes, the second longest semi-final at the All England Club. The contest began on Friday night but was suspended after three sets due to the tournament’s 11 pm curfew. Djokovic eventually booked his place in the final with a 6-4 3-6 7-6 3-6 10-8 win in a match befitting a final never mind a semi-final. The Serb went on to defeat South African Kevin Anderson in the final, who had a semi-final epic of his own against American John Isner which lasted six hours and 36 minutes.