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Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal Odds & Prediction – French Open Men’s Singles Semifinals

Stephanie Myles

by Stephanie Myles in Tennis

Jun 10, 2021 · 9:40 AM PDT

Novak Djokovic
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts as he defeats Italy's Matteo Berrettini in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • Friday’s French Open semifinal will be the 58th meeting between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal
  • While Djokovic holds a 29-28 edge overall, Nadal leads 19-7 on red clay
  • Nadal is the favorite (as usual). We break down the matchup and make a prediction

They are inarguably the two best clay-court players in the world. But Friday’s French Open semifinal will be only the second time in six years that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have played each other at the French Open.

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal Odds

Player Spread Moneyline Total
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) +4.5 (-103) +215 O 37.5 (-112)
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) -4.5 (-121) -275 U 37.5 (-110)

Odds as of June 10 at DraftKings

A Clay-Court Rivalry in Three Parts

If the 19-7 record Nadal has over Djokovic on clay seems lopsided, it’s really the tale of three different phases.

Nadal won their first nine meetings going all the way back to the 2006 French Open quarterfinals 15 years ago.

Then, from Rome 2014 through Rome 2016, Djokovic won four of five.

But Nadal has won the last five, with the loss of just two total sets. Most memorable was the beatdown he inflicted upon Djokovic in the 2020 French Open final, exceptionally played in October. Most recent was the 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 victory in the Rome final less than a month ago.

And that’s why he was the strong pre-tournament favorite.

Very Different Conditions for 2021 Clash

Last fall, the conditions were cold, wet and slow for the pandemic-necessary October dates.

Even if Nadal prefers the hot, sunny, quicker conditions (on clay, at least), he still won.

Eight months later, the weather has been warm and humid all week. And it’s expected to remain that way for the rest of the tournament. The conditions are much more to Nadal’s liking, although they also are to Djokovic’s liking.

Djokovic and Nadal in Decent, Not Spectacular Form

Last fall, Nadal had all sorts of reasons why he wasn’t backing himself to win the the French Open.

Of course, he rolled to his 13th career title without dropping a set.

This year, Djokovic has all sorts of reasons why he might have struggled. He skipped Madrid after an early loss in Monte Carlo. He had some  tough nights in Rome. And with the (almost) requirement to play the two smaller ATP Tour events at the club he owns in Belgrade, it’s not been typical French Open prep.

Against Matteo Berrettini Wednesday night, Djokovic dealt with … a few things.

There was a 20-minute break in the middle of the match when they had to clear the fans out of the stadium to meet the 11 pm government curfew.

Djokovic came back after Berrettini took the third set. And when it was over, he let all his emotions fly. That’s not new for him. But in the empty stadium with the sound of his screams echoing and bouncing around, it was … quite a moment.

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal Head-to-Head

Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal

34 (May 22, 1987) Age 35 (June 3, 1986)
Belgrade, Serbia Birthplace Manacor, Mallorca
6-2 Height 6-1
83 Career ATP Singles Titles 88
18 Career Grand Slam Titles 20
No. 1 (July 4, 2011) Career High Ranking No. 1 (Aug. 18, 2008)
No. 1 Current Ranking  No. 3
$148,092,073 Career Prize Money $124,480,032
25-3 2021 Won/Loss record 23-3
29 2021 Career Head-to-Head 28

Will It Be Routine, or Marathon?

Recent evidence at Roland Garros is meager, in terms of predicting how this one is going to go.

Last fall’s straight-sets Nadal win was probably an outlier. Then again, maybe not.

Djokovic is the only active player to ever defeat Nadal in Paris, where he’s now 105-2. The other, Robin Soderling, who famously upset the Mallorcan in 2009, is retired.

Will he overdo the drop shot, as he did in last October’s final and seemed to do Wednesday against Berrettini?

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal Grand Slam Match History

Year Tournament Round Score Winner
2020 Roland Garros Final 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 Nadal
2019 Australian Open Final 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 Djokovic
2018 Wimbledon Semifinal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9), 3-6, 10-8 Djokovic
2015 Roland Garros Quarterfinal 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 Djokovic
2014 Roland Garros Final 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 Nadal
2013 US Open Final 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 Nadal
2013 Roland Garros Semifinal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 9-7 Nadal
2012 Roland Garros Final 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 Nadal
2012 Australian Open Final 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 Djokovic
2011 US Open Final 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1 Djokovic
2011 Wimbledon Final 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 Djokovic
2010 US Open Final 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 Nadal
2008 Roland Garros Semifinal 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (3) Nadal
2007 Wimbledon Semifinal 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 (retd) Nadal
2007 Roland Garros Semifinal 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 Nadal
2006 Roland Garros Quarterfinal 6-4, 6-4 retd Nadal

It doesn’t feel as though Djokovic is in the right place to pull off an upset this year. But you count out a champion at your peril.

The likely outcome is neither a straight-sets Nadal win, nor a marathon for the ages.

Best Bet: Rafael Nadal in four sets (+300)

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