The latest Djokovic-Nadal match was a spectacular treat, to say the least. It is such a great match that we have not seen in a very long time. In fact, the Djokovic-Nadal semi-final is the best tennis match in this year so far, with nothing else being able to match it in intensity. Did these two men, like Federer, re-winded their ages back to their prime days? Here are some of the best matches of this very long rivalry that started in 2007.
US Open 2011 Final
Although this match took place over four sets, it was just as intense as the other five-set epics. It was in fact felt by us to be the most intense match of 2011, which in our opinion was largely due to the fact that that was the last grand slam of year, and both were naturally going all out on their 'final push'. The two was then meeting in their second straight US Open final - with Nadal having won the earlier encounter - and in their second straight grand slam final - Djokovic won this encounter at Wimbledon. The point which best encapsulates the ferocity of the match was when the match was at 3-4 (30-40) in the third set in Nadal's favour, and Djokovic was facing break point (look at the video right below)
What a classic!
Wimbledon 2018 Semi-Final
Old is gold, and this match is great proof of this. We are currently in an age when a changing of guards between generations is taking place, and this match just reminded us that we want the old guard to stay for longer, far longer. This match, on top of displaying the continuing prowess of these two, points also to the adaptability of both players to adapt. Both of them were hitting far flatter than their usual selves, most probably due to their realizations that a counter-punching game, given its physical wear, is no longer ideal for them. In this sense the match could be said to be hold a special place in their rivalry thus far given that it is the most hard-hitting.
French Open 2013 Semi-Final
Ranked by many tennis critics as the best tennis match to have been played on clay in tennis history, this match naturally deserves a place on this list. Why is this match so great? First of all there was the dramatic element of a set-to-win-player not winning. The greatest match in tennis history (the 2008 Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal) would not be the greatest match ever without this element. Djokovic was up 4-3 on the serve - holding it would meant going 5-3 in Djokovic's favour. On top of that, the effects of friction on the tennis balls by the red clay meant that the rallies are more extended than usual, and the bursts of ferocity are lengthened.
Australian Open 2012 Final
In the words of the great American John McEnroe, this match has to be the best match when the measuring metric is the amount of grit displayed in the tournament. The fact that it is the longest grand slam final in tennis history, despite not having a terribly long score in the deciding set, means that each point was painfully long. In fact, this was the first match we have seen in which the players literally had no energy to stand post-match.
Will the representatives of the next generation be able to match the current greats in the standards and attitudes they bring to the match. I doubt so, and we hope Nadal and Djokovic stay on for as long as possible. Another Djokovic-Nadal epic is badly needed.
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