This is one of the all-time great rivalries in sport, with Djokovic holding a slight advantage overall, leading 29-28 in the head-to-head.
But it is the Spaniard who holds an overall advantage head-to-head in Grand Slams, 20-18. With the reigning champion at Roland Garros naturally holding a dominant record on the clay in Paris over the Serbian, leading 13-1.
“Let’s face it, it’s the biggest challenge that you can have playing on clay against Nadal on this court in which he has had so much success in his career,” Djokovic remarked, not mixing his words or downplaying the challenge in front of him. “In the final stages of a Grand Slam, it doesn’t get bigger than that.”
The pair have won 38 Grand Slam titles between them, and Djokovic is bidding to become the first player of the Open era to win every Grand Slam at least twice.
While Nadal is looking to extend a ludicrous record of 13 successive titles at Roland Garros, with his staggering record of 105 wins from his 107 career matches. The famous defeats came in 2009, losing to Robin Soderling 2-6 7-6(2) 4-6 6-7(2) in the 4th Round, while Djokovic did get the better of him on the clay in 2015, winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, but he would ultimately lose in the final to Stan Wawrinka, though redemption came a year later with the title in 2016.
“We know each other well. Everybody knows that in these kind of matches anything can happen,” Nadal said after sweeping past Argentine 10th seed Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals. “The player who is playing better that day is the player that is going to have better chances. That’s it.
“It is going to be an important match for both of us. But is a semi-final, not a final. That’s a big difference. Even the winner of that match needs to keep going and there remains a lot of work to do to try to achieve the final goal here.”
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