"Rafael Nadal is my greatest rival of all time" admits Novak Djokovic

"Rafael Nadal is my greatest rival of all time" admits Novak Djokovic

by Alex Waite

Last updated

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal remain in contention for the 2022 Madrid Open title as the ATP greats are still in the main draw, and could potentially meet at the Masters event.

Djokovic and Nadal have shown some decent form early at the 2022 Madrid Open as both players prepare for their respective third-round clashes. The former world number ones were successful in their opening matches when the Serbian defeated Gael Monfils for the 18th time in a row while the Spaniard beat Djokovic's compatriot, Miomir Kecmanovic.

In the third round, 2022 Australian Open champion Nadal will take on David Goffin who rediscovered his form so far during the 2022 campaign. However, Djokovic will battle against another one of his long-term rivals Andy Murray, who could provide a tough test after defeating Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov in Madrid.

These age-old rivalries ignite memories of the Big Three heyday when Djokovic, Nadal and the now-retired Roger Federer competed for hundreds of ATP titles in the 2000s and 2010s. However, when speaking to Eurosport about Nadal's involvement in the Madrid Open this season, Djokovic shared that the Spanish 21-time Grand Slam winner is still one of his most fierce tennis rivals.

“Of course, it affects, because he's my greatest rival of all time. You're right. I mean, I wasn't thinking about this, but we have not been in the same draw for a while. You know, things are changing. We have young players, and we are both trying to do our best to compete for the top spots of the world. I think we are still going strong, so it's nice to see that.”

If Djokovic and Nadal continue to succeed in Madrid, they could set up a heavyweight semi-final clash and go head-to-head once more. It would present another opportunity for the elite players to face off, with Djokovic leading his Spanish rival in head-to-head results with a 30-28 advantage.

The duo have had some epic battles ever since their first meeting at the 2006 Roland Garros quarter-final, which Nadal won following Djokovic's retirement. Over the past 16 years, the players have met in nine Grand Slam finals and they have won a combined 41 major titles in their respective careers.

If Djokovic and Nadal do meet at the 2022 Madrid Open, Nadal might be confident of edging his Serbian foe. In the past four meetings, all of which came on clay, Nadal has won three times.

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