Poll: Novak Djokovic Or Rafael Nadal, Who Wins Their 49th Meeting Friday In Rome?
by Staff | May 12th, 2016, 9:10 pm

The headline match Friday on quarterfinal day at the Rome Masters is none other than chapter 49 of the Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal rivalry. The two have combined to meet more times in the Open Era than any other rivals, and they also have combined to win the last 11 Rome titles, seven going to Nadal.

Djokovic leads 25-23 (6-14 on clay) and has won the last six meetings and 13 sets (10 of last 11 matches, 22-4 sets). Nadal’s last win came in the final of 2014 Roland Garros.

“Tomorrow is a big challenge playing against Rafa. The fact that I played against a left-handed player today hopefully will get myself positioned well for the next match,” Djokovic said after a 3-set win over Thomaz Bellucci. “I’ve played him in Rome several times.

“I have watched his match. I’m going to try to get myself ready. I’m hoping I can start better than I did today.”

This is their sixth meeting in Rome (Nadal leads 3-2) and earliest meeting here since the quarterfinals in 2007.

Djokovic, who has won 15 straight matches against Top 10 opponents (33-2 in sets), is the all-time leader with 29 career ATP Masters 1000 titles followed by Nadal with 28. Djokovic is appearing in the quarterfinals or better here for the 10th consecutive year. He’s won his last 12 matches in Rome and is 35-2 on the season. Nadal leads the ATP World Tour this year with an 19-3 clay court record, winning 15 of his past 16 matches. This is the Spaniard’s 11th quarterfinals in Rome in 12 appearances. He is 9-1 in quarterfinal matches in Rome after coming from a set down to beat Nick Kyrgios.

“I’m playing well, I feel like I am playing at the right level,” he said. “Today was important victory for me, of course, against a very difficult opponent.”

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15 Comments for Poll: Novak Djokovic Or Rafael Nadal, Who Wins Their 49th Meeting Friday In Rome?

Humble Rafa Says:

I am afraid, very afraid of tomorrow’s match.

anki Says:

Rafa, he has been playing at a much higher level at Rome than in MC and Barcelona. As for Novak, back to being unpredictable, played pretty much at a solid level in Madrid. Now back to being a mug. Rafa in two or three my prediction.

Daniel Says:

Djoko in 2. Tomorrow he will turn into A+ mode on. Just looking at Nadal on the other side will shake his last two slow starts.

chrisford1 Says:

The “mug” has lapped the field so far in 2016 race to London points. It seems he makes a trademark of at least one sucktastic early rounder, then, except for MC, pulls it together to win the early match and gets better and better as he moves towards the final. Several players and writers have pondered the notion that Djokovic plays under his ability in order to practice things in the pressure of an actual match. That he is toying with lesser players – though Novak is too nice to make it clear and obvious.
He does have a dilemma – the Draw has become very bad for him. Improved Rafa, then dangerous and exerting Nishikori/Thiem, than back to Andy for a possible grueling Final if he gets through QFs and Semis.
Djokovic both wants to make a statement but also not kill himself and get tired and beat up with the French Open starting May 22. Will go all out with Rafa, but may indeed think losing the semi to two guys he is reasonably sure of beating either at the FO – is not tragic.
If he beats Rafa, and is feeling good as he plays on, he may go for the Rome trophy yet again.

If it turns into an exhausting brutal gladiator duel yet again, the winner may want the Samurai to take the semi a give Muzz a most taxing Final.

Prediction? Djokovic 2-0 in two close sets, one involving a tiebreaker.

Van Persie Says:

Nole would have better lost yesterdays match…but I guess that bagel motivated him. Does he really need to play Rafa, then probably Thiem?…He won already in Madrid and had enough warm up on clay…

Dave Says:


I also believe that for Novak, the most important match of this tournament by far is the QF match against Rafa. He absolutely doesn’t want to lose this match, and will do everything in his power to win it. The last thing he wants to do is give Rafa confidence going into the French. To me, the pressure is actually on Rafa to make a statement tomorrow and prove to himself that he can actually beat Djokovic again. He will have to win at least a set tomorrow to feel confident that he can push Novak to the limit. If he loses in straight sets, that will be another setback. Belucci has a style that bothers him more than Nadal’s style especially lately. He hits the ball harder and flatter and Novak had a hard time dictating play today. Novak never has to worry about having that issue, because Rafa isn’t going to be ultra aggressive and push and dictate the whole match. He just can’t do that against Djokovic. I think Nadal has a chance to win tomorrow. Obviously Nadal has to win the first set tomorrow. That will be huge. I do give Nadal a chance tomorrow for sure. Nadal has looked the best that he has looked all year and Djokovic has looked the worst he has looked all year. So if Nadal doesn’t take it to 3 sets or win tomorrow, how is he going to beat Djokovic when he is peaking again? There was never a better time for Nadal to pounce and get a win against his great rival than right now. This has the makings for an epic match. Nadal has played more tennis than Djokovic this clay season by far and he did play about an hour more than Novak today. I don’t think that will affect Nadal though physically. I won’t make a prediction. It’s to hard to call. My gut says Djokovic because he has owned Nadal, but form says Nadal. They usually say to go with your gut. But I won’t do that this time.

anki Says:

If Nole wins today, most probably he will go on to lift his fifth title at Rome. It is just that his early round trash performances gives me a head ache. Hopefully he is fired up for the RG and does not go f@cking around in the early or final rounds.

Dave Says:

I do fear that the same thing is going to happen this year that happened last year. He is going to have a really difficult draw like last year. He could potentially have to play Thiem in the 4th round, Nadal in the QF, Wawrinka in the Semi’s and Murray in the finals. Or he could have to play Nishikori in the QF’s. I think he would much rather play Berdych who seems disinterested in tennis, judging by today’s match, or Tsonga, who won’t push Nole in a long grinding match. Nadal and Nishikori would push Nole into a long grinding match. Nishikori is looking very good at the moment. Thiem would also push him into a long grinding match. The good thing is that if Nadal wins the tournament, he will go to 4th and Nole won’t have to play him until Semi-finals or finals. So much can change with the draw. How many long grinding matches will Nole need to play? That will be the question. He seems to run out of gas by the finals and can’t cope with the pressure once he gets there.

Van Persie Says:

His attitude in 1 set was kinda “Should I stay or should I go” like

skeezer Says:

Good one and good song ;)

Okiegal Says:

@Skeezer…….Thunder and the Warriors next……are you ready? I think Golden State will win that series.

Michael Says:

Well, the match is literally on Novak’s racquet. If he plays well, then Rafa just cannot stop him as the match up between them is pretty much loaded in his favour and also the fact that he enjoys a psychological advantage which will have a huge motivational factor in favour of him and act as a dampener for Rafa who is just clueless against how to control a rampaging aggressive Novak at the other end. Moreover, the serves of Rafa no longer are invested with much power, angle and spin and so it is relatively easy to attack especially for one of the best returners of the Game which Novak definitely is.

But, these are Clay Courts and one cannot just dismiss Rafa’s chances too considering the fact that Novak is also playing far below his best till recently at Rome and there is every chance that he might falter to give Rafa a opening.

Nonetheless, I consider this as a crucial match ahead of the most important Rolland Garros and both the players cannot just afford to lose, more so Novak especially considering that he is eager and anxious to lift his first Rolland Garros title which he truly deserves for all his exploits on these Courts all these years.

J-Kath Says:

Novak will want to prevent Rafa from gaining an additional burst of confidence which could be dangerous at FO. Otherwise I doubt he’ll be bothered if he lost….he’s way above the pack anyway an odd loss is meaningless. As for Rafa, this is where his grit and determination will peak….
…..who will win? Percentage wise: Rafa 51% to Nole 49%.

Haider Ali Cheema Says:

Djokovic has been playing the most dominant tennis ever since a year now. It is hard to maintain that percentage of dominance so consistently and as far as Novak is concerned, these kind of little breakers motivate him to the utmost level to perform and give out his best. Makes him more hungry and eager to clinch what he considers his own

Suresh Says:

It does not matter. Rafa won only Madrid title and lost to Novak in Rome. Still he won RG 14. Conditions always favoured Rafa in RG. Rafa can win one last FO in 16 provided he is healthy.

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