Since Roland Garros 2006, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have met 58 times in official matches, pushing themselves to the limit and battling for the most notable tennis trophies. Two big rivals played twice in a couple of weeks in May and June, with Nadal beating Djokovic in the Rome final and the Serb serving as a rematch in the Roland Garros semi-finals.
Djokovic has had the advantage over Nadal since 2013, toppling the Spaniard no less than 30 times and 15 times in the last 21 meetings! Novak's first win over Rafa came in Miami 2007, his first tournament of his as a player in the top 10!
Nadal edged out Djokovic at Indian Wells two weeks earlier, and Novak was ready to turn things around in Florida, scoring a 6-3, 6-4 win in one hour and 37 minutes for a place in the semifinals. The Serb played incredibly well on the second serve, scoring 15 of 20 points and defending four out of five break opportunities to keep Nadal under pressure.
Unlike Indian Wells, Rafa couldn't keep up with the serve, struggled on the second serve and broke three times out of seven opportunities offered to Novak. Neck and neck were maintained in the shorter rallies of up to four shots, and Djokovic had the upper hand in the midrange and the most extended exchanges, leaving Nadal behind after hitting more winners than unforced errors.
After three great service turns on both sides, Novak forced Rafa's mistake by going 3-1 up front. Djokovic suffered a break later when his right hand landed long to bring the Spaniard back to the positive side of the scoreboard.
Novak's forehand worked much better in the next game and forced another mistake from Rafa to secure the second consecutive break and advance 4-2.
Djoker is really strong mentally
In a recent interview to SkySports.com, Former World No.8 Marcos Baghdatis claimed that Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player- both mentally and physically.
Even though he mentioned that Djoker is really strong mentally, he also highlighted that he sometimes loses his calm on the court. “How can he just change gears whenever he wants to? I think mentally, physically, and tennis-wise, he is the best out there.
With that said, the mental part of his game can be so strong, but at the same time it can ruin him… It’s the mental side where he can sometimes have these bursts, but for me, it’s really understandable,” said Baghdatis in the interview.
Baghdatis lauded Nole for his fitness as well. He stated that keeping his mind his physique, the 20-time Grand Slam champion can easily play for the next five years. “I think it happens because he works so hard. He does everything off the court so well, from his nutrition to his fitness. The guy has everything to keep on playing for the next five years,” added the former Croatian player.