'Djokovic is still Nadal's most dangerous rival on clay,' says Toni Nadal
For the last 16 years, Rafael Nadal has been the dominant figure on the slowest surface, claiming 13 Roland Garros titles and numerous Masters 1000 crowns.
Novak Djokovic has been Nadal's most challenging rival on clay, beating the Spaniard nine times and toppling him in the Roland Garros quarter-final and four Masters 1000 finals. Since 2017, Nadal and Djokovic have played only four matches on clay, with Nadal winning them all, including the last year's Roland Garros final when he lost only seven games.
Nadal and Djokovic missed a chance for another encounter on clay in Monte Carlo, both losing before the semi-final and heading home to Barcelona and Belgrade, respectively, hoping for a better run in front of the home fans. While Nadal saved a match point in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas for his 12th Barcelona Open crown, Novak lost in the semi-final of the Serbia Open to Aslan Karatsev after almost three and a half hours.
Despite two heavy losses, Toni Nadal still considers Novak as Rafa's greatest rival on clay, saying he can bounce back after a couple of good wins and fight for the titles again.
"Djokovic will have more doubts in the next tournament he plays after those exits. Still, he is one of the players who can find his form quickly if he plays a good match. He remains Rafa's ultimate rival on clay," Toni Nadal said.