Tennis Tuesday: Where is the Rivalry?

Updated: October 13, 2015

After a simple performance by Novak Djokovic against a once deadly competitor Rafael Nadal, where is the big rivalry in men’s tennis?


‘Tennis Tuesday’ is a weekly column by Jamie Davies on the Let’s Talk Sport website taking a look at a different angle each week.


Last Sunday at the ATP 500 Beijing Open final, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal stepped onto the court which was once a true rivalry between the two.


These are two players who shared many classic finals together over the past few years including seven Grand Slam finals.


Djokovic v Nadal: Head-to-head

Matches played: 45

Djokovic wins: 22

Nadal wins: 23



But what was seen in China did not seem to describe the history of their close encounters, it looked completely the opposite as the Spaniard was cleaned out by the Serb losing 6-2, 6-2. The scoreline explains exactly how one-sided the match looked.


Nadal is having a very troubled season with no Grand Slams added in 2015, being the first year since 2004 the former world No. 1 has failed to win the penultimate prize in tennis.


When checking the current ATP rankings, Nadal was only just hanging on to his place in the top eight for qualification to the season-ending World Tour Finals in November.


Even Nadal’s Beijing finale opponent would agree: “I think it’s obvious that he’s not having the great season this year,” said Djokovic.


Djokovic however, is in the prime of his career so far with three Grand Slam victories from 2015 and being on top of the world in the rankings all year round.


The 28-year-old is over 7,000 points ahead of Andy Murray in second place, the question is can anybody stop this unbeatable player?


With Djokovic being many steps higher than his challengers, the feeling of worry on a non-true rivalry starts to beckons.


Tennis is always known for having at least two players going at each other in as many big tournament finals as possible. For example, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Nadal there are many to look back at.


There is no consistent opponent on the opposite side of Djokovic, Federer is arguably an option at this moment in time, but the Swiss is six years older at an age where many expected the 34-year-old to collapse/retire from the sport.


One player can say at the end of the season that they overcame Djokovic which is to be Stanislas Wawrinka who upset the odds by taking away the French Open, avoiding Novak’s attempts to become the 8th player to achieve a career Grand Slam.



Wawrinka denied Djokovic his first French Open title in June – image credit:


Wawrinka has been Djokovic’s bogey opponent in the last couple of years, but the fans do not get to see these match-ups in a final. ‘Stan the man’ has never been named No. 2 in the world which makes it harder for Wawrinka when it comes down to the tournament routes.


A consistent final appearance between Djokovic and Wawrinka could lead to unpredictable results.


This week


ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Shanghai


Dates: October 11 – 18

Surface: Hard court

Prize money: $4,783,320

Last year’s winner: Roger Federer (7-6, 7-6 v Gilles Simon)


Jamie’s winner: Novak Djokovic


The form Djokovic is on has been incredible to witness and you just expect this hot run to continue, at least until the end of the season in November.


The Serb will no doubt in his mind aim to win the remaining couple of Masters, starting off with Shanghai this week before Paris next month.


Federer was the favourite to win the title but a second round defeat to Albert Ramos-Vinolas has denied any chances.


You just cannot see Djokovic losing this tournament.



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