Novak vs. Rafa in Davis Cup showdown!

ATP World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 3 Novak Djokovic will continue their rivalry this weekend as they lead defending champion Spain and Serbia, respectively, in the Davis Cup World Group first round on clay in Benidorm, Spain. In front of 14,000 fans at the Parque Tematico Terra Mitica, Spain will look to avoid a repeat of the two first round losses it suffered immediately after winning the Davis Cup title in 2000 and 2004.

While Spain and Serbia have never met before in the Davis Cup, the countries’ No. 1 players will face each other for the 15th time. Nadal has a 10-4 career record against Djokovic, which includes a 4-2 mark last year. The pair has met seven times on hard courts (Djokovic 4-3), five times on clay courts (Nadal 5-0) and twice on grass courts (Nadal 2-0). They have only met twice in tour-finals at 2007 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells and 2008 Queen’s Club in London.

Here is a history of the duo’s 14 meetings, beginning with their last match at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

2008 Olympic Games Beijing SF, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 16 64
Three days before Rafael Nadal became the 24th player to rank No. 1 in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings, the Spaniard sealed his 69th win of the year after defeating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes at the Olympic Green Tennis Center. The match finished at 12:22 a.m. local time. Djokovic saved one match point on serve at 30/40, 4-5 in the deciding set with a powerful forehand. But Nadal was not to be denied, as a couple of minutes later Djokovic missed a smash at the net on Nadal’s second match point. Nadal hit 13 winners and committed 46 unforced errors in total, compared to 18 winners and 52 unforced errors for Djokovic. Nadal went on to clinch the gold medal over Fernando Gonzalez, while Djokovic won the bronze medal over James Blake.

2008 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati SF, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 61 75
Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal’s 32-match winning streak with a 6-1, 7-5 semi-final victory in one hour and 25 minutes. The loss meant Nadal would officially become the No. 1 for the first time in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on August 18. Djokovic jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set before closing it out in 26 minutes. The Serbian hit 11 winners to Nadal’s two and won 16 of 20 points on his own serve in the first set. In the second set, Nadal’s only break point came in the sixth game but Djokovic saved it. He broke Nadal in the 11th game at 15/40 and then served out the match, hitting a forehand volley winner on match point. It was Nadal’s first loss in nearly three months since he fell to countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero in the opening round of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome on May 7.

2008 AEGON Championships, Queen’s Club London F, grass, Nadal d. Djokovic 76(6) 75
In front of a packed centre court crowd at The Queen’s Club in west London, four-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 7-6(6), 7-5 in a thrilling final of the highest quality – a fitting way to celebrate 30 years of the event. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester presented the Spaniard with his fifth trophy of the season and his third in succession following wins in Hamburg and Roland Garros. With the win, Nadal became the first reigning French Open champion to win at The Queen’s Club since Ilie Nastase in 1973 and the first Spaniard to win there since Andres Gimeno in 1960. He was also the first Spaniard to win a grass court title since Gimeno won in Eastbourne in 1972.

2008 Roland Garros SF, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 62 76(3)
Three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal tightened his grip on the No. 2 spot in the South African Airways ATP Rankings by extending his Roland Garros record to 27-0 with a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(3) win over No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic in two hours and 49 minutes. Nadal became the first man since Ivan Lendl from 1984-1987 to reach four consecutive finals, and just the third man in the Open Era to do so. Djokovic was unable to generate any break points on Nadal’s serve throughout the first set and, with his attacking play nullified by great defence from Nadal, he went on to lose the first set 6-4 after 57 minutes. The Spaniard closed out the set 6-2 with a forehand winner after 91 minutes, and put the match out of Djokovic’s reach by going up a double break in the third set. Djokovic fought back and had a chance to win his first set against the Spaniard at Roland Garros when he earned a set point after an effective return in the 12th game. However, Nadal denied him and went on to take the match in the tie-break.

2008 German Open Hamburg SF, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 75 26 62
Rafael Nadal came out on top in the battle for the No. 2 position in the South African Airways ATP Rankings with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Novak Djokovic in a titanic battle over three hours and three minutes. It was the greatest match of their rivalry to date. In a first set featuring five breaks of serve under the roof on center court, Djokovic began in blistering form, breaking Nadal early to lead 3-0. The pressure began to tell on Djokovic, and Nadal broke back to lead 5-4. However, with Nadal serving for the set, Djokovic relaxed, went for his shots and it paid off as he leveled for 5-5. With the atmosphere rising, 2007 finalist Nadal found more outstanding tennis and a forehand pass broke Djokovic’s serve again and gave Nadal the 6-5 lead. This time Nadal did not falter and he served it out after 72 minutes. Both men continued to produce their finest tennis for much of the second set, before Djokovic was able to edge out a break of serve to lead 3-2 with some deep, aggressive hitting bullying Nadal into errors. With Nadal serving at 2-5, 15-30, a reflex volley from Djokovic set up two set points and the pressure told on Nadal as he put a forehand wide for Djokovic to level the match. Nadal immediately earned a break of serve in the third set. After failing to convert break back chances, Djokovic’s resistance began to crumble.

2008 BNP Paribas Open, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells SF, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 62
In a semi-final full of long, spectacular rallies, Novak Djokovic struck eight aces and 20 winners to 11 for defending champion Rafael Nadal in a 6-3, 6-2 win in one hour and 28 minutes. Nadal, who struggled on serve throughout the match, secured an early break of serve but Djokovic fought back to level for 2-2 and broke again for 5-3 with a net cord winner. Djokovic won the final four games. “I had very tough matches in the rounds before, very tight matches,” Nadal said. “You have to be 100%. [Djokovic] played, for sure, less hours on the court than me, easier matches.”

2007 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai RR, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 64
Rafael Nadal needed to beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets in order to secure a semi-final berth, and was in combative mood from the start. “I play very, very good match – the best match here, and one of the best matches of the indoor season,” said Nadal, after the 6-4, 6-4 win in one hour and 44 minutes. “I play very, very complete match.” Unable to clinch a semi-final berth, Djokovic tried throughout – hitting nine aces – but was eventually outclassed.

2007 Rogers Cup, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Canada SF, grass, Djokovic d. Nadal 75 63
Novak Djokovic enjoyed his career-best tournament to date by becoming the first player since Boris Becker at Stockholm in 1994 to defeat the Top 3 players in the ATP Rankings at the same tournament. Having knocked out No. 3-ranked Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals, the Serbian overcame No. 2 and 2005 Montreal champion Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 50 minutes. Djokovic saved all eight break point he faced. In his third straight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final in North America, Djokovic defeated World No. 1 Roger Federer.

2007 Wimbledon SF, grass, Nadal d. Djokovic 36 61 41 ret. (left toe)
Rafael Nadal reached his fifth career Grand Slam final after fourth seed Novak Djokovic retired due to severe blisters on his left toe. Nadal was leading 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 with one hour and 41 minutes on the clock. Djokovic did not look fully fit, after two epic victories over Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round and Marcos Baghdatis in the quarter-finals. Nadal began the match sluggishly dropping his opening service game to hand his opponent a 2-0 lead, which Djokovic capitalised on with the first set in 37 minutes. World No. 5 Djokovic dropped his serve twice in the second and sixth games of the second set, which Nadal clinched in 35 minutes. The trainer was then called at one set apiece to bandage a blister on the little toe of Djokovic’s left foot. The Serbian attempted to play on but, after being broken in the third and fifth games of the set, decided to call a halt at his fifth career grass-court event.

2007 Roland Garros SF, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 75 64 62
Both started the semi-final as the only ATP players to have broken the 40-win plateau on the season. Novak Djokovic, a first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, challenged Rafael Nadal in the 66-minute first set as he came from down two breaks to get back on serve at five games all. But Nadal promptly closed the set as he won the next two games. Djokovic had an opportunity to take the 2-0 lead in the next set, but Nadal saved three break points and never looked back. He converted on three of his remaining four break chances in the match to cement the 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 win in two hours and 28 minutes. The Spaniard went on to become the second player in Roland Garros history (since 1925) to win three consecutive titles in Paris.

2007 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome QF, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 63
Back on his beloved clay, two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal produced a devastating display to beat Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes. “I’m playing at my best level for sure,” Nadal said after extending his Open Era record winning streak to 77 matches. “It was a very nice match. We were playing at 100 percent every point. Djokovic is very, very good player. He didn’t play a bad match today. He served very well on the break points – unbelievable. Every time he beat me with the serve. But finally I played consistently, and that’s decisive.”

2007 Sony Ericsson Open, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami QF, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 64
”I have to say that this is the biggest, and probably the most important victory in my career, and he’s the best player I ever won against,” said Novak Djokovic, after avenging his Pacific Life Open final defeat with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Rafael Nadal in the Miami quarter-finals. “Coming from Indian Wells finals, I learned a lot of things… Today I was really motivated. I didn’t have anything to lose. I’m making some unbelievable results in the last couple of months. I’m in great shape, feeling really confident on the court.” Djokovic, who saved three break points in the final game to record his second Top 10 win of the year – after beating Tommy Robredo in the Rotterdam quarter-finals in February – rose to a career-high World No. 7.

2007 BNP Paribas Open, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells F, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 75
Rafael Nadal returned to top form by capturing his first title since lifting his second Roland Garros crown in June 2006. The 20-year-old Spaniard won the first nine points and 16 of the first 18 points against Novak Djokovic, who lost his serve three times. “This is one of the best wins for me,” said Nadal, who won 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 34 minutes. “It is a strange feeling to come here and win without losing a set. I won against a great player.” As a result Djokovic rose three spots to No. 10 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

2006 Roland Garros QF, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 64 ret. (thigh, back)
Defending champion Rafael Nadal struggled with his serve, but Novak Djokovic was never 100 per cent fit and attempted to keep the points short throughout his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final. Nadal, who led Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, notched his 58th consecutive clay-court victory when the World No. 63 retired with a back and thigh injury after one hour and 54 minutes. Nadal extended his perfect Roland Garros record to 12-0 and stood two wins away from a century of career wins (98-12) on crushed brick.

(ATP World Tour)

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