Rafael Nadal: 'It would have been tough to defeat Novak Djokovic had he beat Federer'

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Rafael Nadal: 'It would have been tough to defeat Novak Djokovic had he beat Federer'

Rafael Nadal has played at Roland Garros 17 times, winning 13 titles and experiencing three losses. Two of those came against Novak Djokovic, including the most recent one in the semi-final in June. In 2011, Nadal and Djokovic were the favorites to meet in the Parisian final and extend their incredible battle that year.

Djokovic looked good to topple the king of clay after heading to Roland Garros with a perfect score that year! Struggling with a knee injury in 2009, Nadal made a perfect comeback a year later, winning three Majors and three Masters 1000 tournaments!

The Spaniard was the player to beat in 2010, finishing as the year-end no. 1 for the second time and hoping for another successful ride in 2011. Djokovic was ready to crush the Spaniard's dreams, though, winning the Davis Cup crown for Serbia at the end of 2010 and fixing the health issues to become Nadal's greatest rival in 2011, beating him in no less than six finals!

Entering the season with seven triumphs over Rafa under his belt, Novak shifted into a higher gear that year and toppled the Spaniard in four Masters 1000 finals and Majors at Wimbledon and the US Open to become world no.

1 and announce his domination over the upcoming decade. Djokovic ousted Nadal in the title matches in Indian Wells and Miami. Rafa hoped to regain composure on his beloved clay, winning Monte Carlo and Barcelona without Novak in the field.

Still, the Serb was an unsolved enigma for the Spaniard that year, beating him in straight sets in the finals of Madrid and Rome and causing the king of clay's evident frustration. Nadal went to Roland Garros with no room for errors and survived a nightmare against John Isner in the opening match, prevailing in five sets and finding at least some rhythm in the following rounds to reach the quarters.

Thanks to Federer, Nadal did not have to face Djokovic at Roland Garros 2011.

He played better against Robin Soderling and Andy Murray to advance into the sixth title match in Paris. Rafa was ready for another tough encounter versus Novak, but it was not to be for the Serb that year at Roland Garros, as he suffered the season's first loss in the semi-final against Roger Federer.

Honest as always, Nadal later admitted it would have been hard to beat Novak in a potential title match, as he lost ground in their encounters that year. Instead, the Spaniard faced his old rival Roger Federer in their fourth and last Roland Garros final and prevailed in four sets after over three and a half hours of grueling tennis.

In the following three Majors, Nadal would lose to Novak Djokovic in the final, missing a chance to add more Majors to his tally and finally beat an in-form rival. "2011 was a tough year for me. I lost many finals because I met a spectacular Novak Djokovic.

That year, Novak beat me in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome. Had I met him in the final in Paris, I do not know if I would have been able to beat him. Novak was at an unreachable level at the time and certainly better than me.

Although I was playing well, I came losing many times against him, and he would have been the favorite in Paris," Rafael Nadal said.