Sports

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic eye major statement after Roger Federers Wimbledon exit

45Views

author image

Nadal and Djokovic ready to make major statement after Federer's Wimbledon exit
Will Djokovic or Nadal lift the title? (Picture: Getty/Rex/Shutterstock)

Second up on Centre Court on Friday, is the most played mens match in history – with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal set to serve up another thriller.

The pair have met on 51 occasions in the past – with Djokovic narrowly leading their head-to-head by one win – though this is just their fourth encounter on a grass court.

Their match-up has provided some of the most memorable moments in this sport – with their rivalry peaking in the 2012 Australian Open final. A match that set the record for the longest Grand Slam final in history.

The six-hour match was the ultimate display of physical excellence as both traded blows in high-quality rallies for five sets of jaw-dropping tennis.

Men's semi-finals odds

To reach the final

20/23 – Anderson
20/21 – Isner

10/11 – Djokovic
10/11 – Nadal

Mens winner

7/5 – Djokovic

6/4 – Nadal

7/1 – Isner

7/1 – Anderson

Djokovics win that day was all the more remarkable having come through a five-hour semi-final with Andy Murray just two days before – a situation Nadal finds himself in this time around.

Advertisement Advertisement

The Spaniard was pushed all the way by Juan Martin del Potro in the finest match of Wimbledon 2018 thus far, rallying back from 2-1 down to triumph 6-4 in the decider.

That victory came in the aftermath of Roger Federers exit, which has left the two Big Four members the heavy favourites to win the title.

Both can make real statements by going all the way at the All England Club.

Nadal and Djokovic ready to make major statement after Federer's Wimbledon exit
Federer went out (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Nadal can not only level his head-to-head with the Serb, but also join him on three titles at Wimbledon – his first since 2010 – while crucially closing the gap with Roger Federer to just two Slams in the all-time leaderboard.

For Djokovic, he can claim a 13th major title – placing him just one Slam behind Pete Sampras – and a fourth Wimbledon crown, which would leave him behind only Bjorn Borg, Sampras and Federer in the Open Era standings.

More importantly, though, its a chance to fully announce his return to the top of the game.

In 2016, the 12-time Slam champion was at the peak of his powers. His win over Nadal in Madrid was his seventh in a row – three of which came on clay. An elbow injury and a supposed loss of motivation after holding all four Grand Slam titles at once by winning Roland Garros for the first time.

Nadal and Djokovic ready to make major statement after Federer's Wimbledon exit
Nadal and Federer have dominated at Slam level (Picture: Getty)

The tide has shifted since, with Nadal and Federer splitting the past six majors between them and Djokovic not really being part of the conversation.

Advertisement Advertisement

A sluggish start to the year saw him written off in many parts, but the scintillating tennis hes played on the grass suggests the three-time Wimbledon champion is ready to dominate the sport once more.

Nadal is more than aware of the threat he poses.

Friday is another important match against opponent that is one of the most difficult ones that you can face, he said after beating Del Potro. Hes playing well. Only way to try to win it is play very well.

Nadal and Djokovic ready to make major statement after Federer's Wimbledon exit
Nadal is wary of the threat Djokovic poses (Picture: Getty)

Always is a big challenge face Novak. Is one of the more complex players that I ever saw on our sport. Is always a big test. You know that you cant win against him if you dont play very well.

Djokovic won their last meeting at Wimbledon back in 2011, clinching the title for the first time with a four-set win, before going on to win the tournament three times.

It will be his eighth semi-final appearance at the All England Club, although he admitted theres a different feel to this one.

He said: Well, I mean, obviously its different coming into semifinals this year, taking in consideration 15 months behind, what everything that has happened, my results that were not up to the standard that I was doing before, that I was expected to play on.

Nadal and Djokovic ready to make major statement after Federer's Wimbledon exit
Djokovic has been in great form (Picture: AFP/Getty)

In the same time, Im trying to use the experience and memories that I had on being in final stages of Grand Slams, just take things very simple, day by day.

Advertisement

Obviously at the end of this day, analyse things that Ive done right, that maybe need some improvement, focus on the next days practice session, recovery. Not get ahead of myself too much. Whatever is behind is behind. Ive been through that.

Right now Im just in my thoughts for tomorrows practice and next opponent.

Djokovic is no fool. Hell be aware just how well hes playing. And in the absence of Federer going out, he will hold genuine belief that he can win this title.

Nadal and Djokovic ready to make major statement after Federer's Wimbledon exit
The fire is back (Picture: AFP/Getty)

A switch has certainly flicked in his mind and hes shown countless times during this tournament that the fire is still burning strong in his belly.

Big question marks remain over whether he can produce his best tennis in the biggest matches in the tightest moments.

Nadal wont go away or roll over, even if hes 5-1 down in a deciding set. Djokovic will have to beat the most relentless competitor on the planet.

The tennis is there and if hes mentally locked in, hes capable of winning this match.

If he is, this may well prove to be another defining moment in the career of Novak Djokovic.

Prediction: Djokovic in 4

More: Tennis

Advertisement Advertisement

Leave a Reply