The final we all expected is scheduled to take place on Sunday afternoon, as the top two ranked players on the ATP tour, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, will meet for a 41st time on the professional circuit. The Spaniard leads the head-to-head series 22-18, yet Djokovic has won their last two consecutive matches in 2013. Check out the Nadal vs Djokovic Head to Head matches and stats.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal cruised into ninth final in Rome on Saturday afternoon with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Grigor Dimitrov. It was a dominant performance from the Spaniard, who moves to 5-0 against the budding Bulgarian talent. Nadal is now on a nine-match win streak, including a title in Madrid last week. He will be looking for his record eighth crown at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic earned his ticked into the Rome Masters final after withstanding a grueling battle with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic. The Serbian rallied from a set down to beat Raonic 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-3 in a match-up that lasted three hours of court time. The second set alone lasted 70 minutes, was a particularly intense one which reached a tiebreaker that Djokovic snatched to force a decider.
“It was a big win,” said Djokovic. “Because it gives me a lot of strength and belief that I hope I can carry into tomorrow’s final and the rest of the season. “He played at a high level, especially on his serve, and I cannot recall the last time when I felt so helpless in the return games. I couldn’t really read his serve.”
This is widely considered to be the greatest rivalry of our generation, with both players already surpassing the Open Era record for most matches contested. Apart from that, Nadal holds the most career wins over Djokovic, while the Serb is in a similar position against Rafa. Their series almost always offers a thrilling, high-quality showdown, with a competitive edge rarely seen in modern day sport.
This will mark the 41th time these top two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour – easily surpassing the previous Open Era record held by John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl (36). It is the only rivalry that can boast finals in all four Grand Slam finals, as well as a record 21 Masters 1000 finals. In Grand Slams, Nadal leads 8–3, yet Djokovic holds a 11-9 record overall in finals. The Serb also leads the hard court series 14-7 (11-5 on outdoor courts).
Both Nadal and Djokovic have had their troubles during this tournament, yet it was almost inevitable that they arrive at this very stage of the tournament. Following Djokovic’s win at the Sony Open, Nadal will be looking to avenge that loss by toppling the Serb on this very occasion to earn his eighth title in Rome. It is quite a difficult match-up to predict, particularly since both have had their trails so far this season.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets