Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met for the first time on the Philippe-Chatrier court in the 2006 Roland Garros quarter-finals. It is the first quarter-final of a Major for the young Serbian, and he gave his best against the defending champion and had Nadal run for his win before retiring 6-4, 6-4 behind after one hour and 54 minutes.
Rafa won 20 more points than Novak and worked hard for each of them after a valiant effort from the Serbian. Nadal broke three times and converted half of his return points into five breaks that sent him two sets to nil up front.
Novak lost serve in the first game of the match before shooting his forehand to regain the break and put his name on the scoreboard. The Spaniard broke again in the third game and cemented the lead 3-1. Novak closed the seventh game with an ace to stay within a break deficit and added a backhand error in the next to propel Rafa 5-3 up.
Djokovic secured the ninth game with a forehand winner before Nadal held to zero to close out the first game in 47 minutes and gain momentum. At the start of the second set, the Spaniard broke down and brought the second game home for a 2-0 lead.
Struggling physically, Novak double-faulted in the third game to fall behind 3-0 and called for a trainer for his left thigh.
Nadal on the competitiveness of sport
Rafael Nadal was asked to give his thoughts on the issue of mental health in sports, a topic recently brought into the spotlight by Naomi Osaka and American gymnast Simone Biles.
The 20-time Major winner pointed out how different athletes have their own way of dealing with their inner demons. Nadal explained that the competitiveness of sport brings with it plenty of stress, but, in the same breath, pointed out that people who pursue sport as a career are fortunate to be able to make a living out of their passion.
"Everybody approaches the issues in a different way," the 35-year-old said. "We are under pressure because the competition makes you feel more stress. But, at the same time, we are super lucky, you know, because we are able to work on one of our hobbies.
The most important thing in this life, in my opinion, is be happy, more than anything else, (but) sometimes you feel a little bit anxious," Nadal explained. Apart from tennis, Rafael Nadal has always provided constant support to Spain and its community.
Recently, the former World No.1 was honored with Police Merit Medal. The National Police honored Rafael Nadal on the occasion of the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels in Palma, Balearics.