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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both took four sets to overcome Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini in their respective French Open quarter-finals on Wednesday, setting the scene for a blockbuster semi-final battle on Friday.
The Spaniard is seemingly steaming towards his 14th title at Roland Garros, having not lost at the tournament since 2015, but the tie is spiced up considerably by the fact that Djokovic himself handed out that most recent loss.
With a quite remarkable 105-2 win-loss record at the French Open, Express Sport takes a look at the two occasions which saw Nadal come out on the losing side.
Robin Soderling (2009)
Be honest, after laying eyes on Nadal’s sensational French Open record, did you expect to read the name Robin Soderling as one of just two players to emerge victorious against the legendary Spaniard?
The shock four-set victory was, by far, the biggest of the Swede’s career, bringing to a halt Nadal’s exceptional run of 31 consecutive victories and four consecutive French Open titles since his debut as a 19-year-old in 2005.
The Court Phillipe-Chatrier watched on in shock as the world number 25 maintained a calm and collected demeanour, despite facing a clay court sensation in his maiden fourth round appearance of a Grand Slam tournament.
Soderling’s composure and aggressive play meant Nadal could not truly impose himself in the match, eventually succumbing to a 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2) result which sent shockwaves around the tennis world.
In a career which was cut short due to Mononucleosis, Soderling’s victory over Nadal looks even more impressive today than it did all those years ago.
Novak Djokovic (2015)
With only two losses to choose from, this is by far the most emphatic of Nadal’s French Open career.
Djokovic came into the tie in red hot form, riding the wave of a 26-match winning streak which produced one of the few occasions when Nadal went into a French Open match-up as the underdog.
The Serb’s straight set victory, 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, was just one stepping stone on the way to the final where he lost painfully to Stan Wawrinka to narrowly miss out on the triumph of winning all four major titles in 2015.
Perhaps the most surreal moment of that day was when the crowd at Court Phillipe-Chatrier directed sympathetic applause towards Nadal, an undisputed phenom on clay courts, for notching a game on the board when he was 4-0 down in the final set.
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Quite simply, Djokovic was on a different planet that day, and indeed for much of that year.
The gulf in form is not so drastic going into this Friday’s semi-final between the two tennis heavyweights, but Djokovic will only need to cast his mind back to his dismantling of the Spaniard in 2015 to remind himself that anything is possible.
Mind you, in the 2020 final, Nadal proved that he can be equally as imperious with a straight-sets win. Game on.
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