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Much-awaited semi: No. 1 Djokovic against clay king Nadal
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
AFP

Much-awaited semi: No. 1 Djokovic against clay king Nadal

(Agence France-Presse) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

PARIS – Novak Djokovic said facing Rafael Nadal for the 58th time on Friday, with a place in the French Open final on the line, will be “a great battle” against his “biggest ever rival.”

Djokovic secured the eagerly-awaited clash when he reached his 40th Grand Slam semifinal with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 win over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

It will be his 11th appearance in the last-four in Paris where he was champion in 2016.

Nadal, the 13-time winner, beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 to make the semifinals for the 14th time. He will be playing in his 35th Slam semi.

“I’ll probably pick Rafa as the biggest rival I’ve ever had in my career,” said world No. 1 Djokovic.

“The anticipation for the match against him, any match, any surface, any occasion, is always different from any other.

“Let’s have a great battle.”

Although Djokovic has the edge at 29-28 in their overall rivalry stretching back 15 years, Nadal enjoys a 7-1 record in their French Open meetings and is 19-7 overall on clay.

Djokovic’s last win over the Spanish star on a clay court was in Rome five years ago.

Nadal’s record in Paris now stands at 105 wins against just two losses. One of those defeats, however, was at the hands of Djokovic in 2015.

With Djokovic’s quarterfinal extending beyond the national curfew, play was halted for around 20 minutes at 3-2 in the fourth set so that 5,000 fans could be funnelled out.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC RAFAEL NADAL
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