Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet for the 51st time on Saturday, with a spot in the Rome Masters final on the line.
Date: May 19, 2018
Match time: 2.30 PM local time / 8.30 AM EDT – New York, Montreal / 1.30 PM BST – United Kingdom / 2.30 PM CET – Spain, France, Germany, Italy / 10.30 PM AEST – Melbourne. To convert to your local time,use this website.
To be honest, I prefer not to play against Djokovic. He is one of the best in history, no doubt.
I am not like those players who say ‘yes, I want to measure myself with him’.
If I have to face him, then I give my best to win as I have always done in my career, but obviously, you prefer to have easier opponents than a great player like Novak.
Nole on facing Rafa:
I have to embrace it and have to give everything I’ve got.
This is what I work for, to get to the later stages of events. I haven’t had this kind of feeling for a while.
It’s been a year since I’ve played the semi-finals, the last one was here so I like the conditions and I get a nice support here, so hopefully I’ll be able to play my best tennis.
With his three triumphs this week Rafa is now 17-1 on clay in 2018 and 21-2 overall.
Nole holds a 26-24 record against Rafa, with the pair locked at 3-3 in Rome. Our champ won their last encounter, snapping a seven-match losing streak against the Serb to reach the 2017 Mutua Madrid Open final.
Rafa is the best clay-courter of the Open Era with a 406-36 record (.919). However, he’s 15-7 with three losses in his last four matches against Djokovic on clay (.682). No other man owns more than three clay-court wins over Rafa. Gaston Gaudio beat him three times on clay before the Spaniard turned 19. Dominic Thiem earned his third clay-court victory over Rafa in Madrid on 11 May.
The No. 1 and No. 11 seeds have split six prior match-ups at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and Rafa owns a 9-8 advantage in semi-finals. They have met at all four Grand Slams, the ATP Finals, Davis Cup, the Olympic Games and eight of the nine ATP Masters 1000 events (all but Shanghai). Djokovic is 16-10 with five wins in his last six matches against Rafa at ATP Masters 1000 events.
Rafa began their rivalry with a 14-4 lead, but Djokovic has claimed 11 of their last 13 meetings since losing the 2013 US Open final. Should Rafa win his eighth Rome title, he will return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on 21 May. If Rafa loses to the four-time champion Djokovic or in the championship match on Sunday, Roger Federer will remain World No. 1 through at least 24 June.