Tim Henman believes the French Open quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal is “the most important men’s match of the last 10 years”.
The two long-time rivals will meet for the 59th time on Tuesday evening.
Djokovic set a head-to-head record of 30-28 and won his latest meet in the semifinals of the French Open last year.
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If Djokovic wins again, he will close Nadal’s record of 21st Grand Slam title.
Asked about the significance of the match, former British No. 1 Heinmann told Eurosport: [Roger] Federer v Djokovic at 2019 Wimbledon, but as a result, Rafa tried to equalize in 21 slams and Djokovic in 20 runs, I think this is the most important match in the last 10 years in the men’s game.
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mates Villander added: “I thought last year was a semifinal, but now we know it’s not because Novak won, and then Rafa won the Australian Open.
“I feel like this, but who knows how long these people will continue. It’s a privilege to be around and sit back and watch them.”
The winner of the match will face either Carlos Alcaras or Alexander Sverrev, who will meet earlier on Tuesday.
There was a debate as to whether Djokovic V Nadal was scheduled for the evening session, and the conditions were set in favor of the World No. 1.
However, while playing in the fall after the Covid-19 epidemic, when he won the French Open final in 2020, he defeated Nadal Djokovic in straight sets in the final.
“I think we’m going to see a fast match in terms of batting and aggression,” Villander said.
“The crowd is going to support Rafa because he’s the only one who’s always been here, and they’re still supportive of him; they are generally rooted in the underprivileged.
Following the defeats of world No. 2 Daniel Medvedev and world No. 4 Stephanos Tsitsipas on Monday, those coming out of the upper half of the draw will be a strong option in the final.
Wilander thinks Djokovic and Nadal may have known that there were more to come despite the expectations surrounding their meeting.
“It’s a big match for us, but for them it’s a quarter final. At the Algarve they should probably play the best player in the world, then I think Marin Cilic or Holger Rune, Rafa and Noah will understand it better than we realized.
“It’s a big match, but I want to beat this guy and save a little more energy. I think they will watch it.”
Djokovic has won nine games in a row without dropping a set, and says he expects a physical battle against Nadal.
“Playing him at Roland Garros has always been a physical fight, and all in all, I’m glad I did not spend much time on the court until the quarter finals.
“It’s a big challenge and the biggest challenge you can have at Roland Cross. I’m ready for it … I’m going to like the way I feel, the way I hit the ball. I’ll focus on what I have to do.”
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