ATP: the 10 most frequent duels of the Open era

10- Rafael Nadal – David Ferrer: 32 matches

Record: 26-6 (5-2 in Grand Slam)

David Ferrer’s fault is that he has faced Rafael Nadal too often on clay. As much as he was able to compete with his compatriot on hard tracks, dominating him at the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2011 Australian Open. , for lack of real weapons to oppose it to counter it. Thus, he has lost 22 times in 23 matches on this surface, with the only exception being a success in Monte Carlo in 2014.

David Ferrer congratulates Rafael Nadal, after the Roland-Garros final won by the Mallorcan in 2013. (Luttiau / L’Équipe)

Ferrer had painful moments against Nadal at Roland-Garros, spending four hours on the court combined in the semifinals of 2012 (6-2, 6-2, 6-1) and the final of 2013 (6-3, 6). -2, 6-3). To believe that without the Mallorcan his career could have been very different.

8- John McEnroe – Jimmy Connors: 34 games

Record: 20-14 (6-3 in Grand Slam)

This is the story of two strong personalities, in search of national supremacy before extending it to the world. When they met on the track, it was the guarantee of a real show, on the ground and between points. Strong exchanges with the referee, dialogues with the spectators, stings on the opponent: the atmosphere was always electric and the American public enjoyed it.

It was initially to Connors’ advantage, as a grand final won at Wimbledon in 1982, before McEnroe reversed the situation the following year, when “Mac” was in his firmament. He won ten straight games against his rival, including a demonstration at the Wimbledon final in 1984 (6-1, 6-1, 6-2, in 80 minutes). The symbol of a rivalry that ended up becoming the advantage of the younger of the two (seven years younger for McEnroe).

8- Pete Sampras – Andre Agassi: 34 games

Record: 20-14 (6-3 in Grand Slam)

Although less polarizing than their elders, Sampras and Agassi took over from McEnroe and Connors in American homes. It’s funny that the results of the matches are exactly the same, in general and in Grand Slams. Of the same generation, they went one at a time during the 13 years they faced each other. Sampras attacking tennis has given him an advantage on fast surfaces, when Agassi has won three of his five clay court matches.

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, after the victory of the second in the final of the US Open 1990. (Pochat / L'Équipe)

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, after the victory of the second in the final of the US Open 1990. (Pochat / L’Équipe)

This iconic rivalry in world tennis in the 1990s ended like a dream, with an anthology final at the 2002 U.S. Open. the record for 14 major titles and winner of four of its five joint finals (the only exception at the 1995 Australian Open).

7- Boris Becker – Stefan Edberg: 35 games

Record: 25-10 (1-3 in Grand Slam)

With their attack styles, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg shone especially on fast surfaces, which naturally translates into their clashes (only two on clay). In the game of who would impose his superiority on the other between these two fans of service and volleyball, the German had an advantage in almost all configurations.

Except for the Grand Slam, with two of Edberg’s particular victories over Becker in the Wimbledon final, where they competed for three consecutive years for the title, from 1988 to 1990. The Swede had also won his only duel at Roland Garros. in five sets in 1989. Although they were almost the same age (almost 2 years apart), Edberg came down faster and Becker won his last ten meetings, except for the 1990 Paris Open final, where he had abandoned in the middle. of the first set.

6- Ivan Lendl – Jimmy Connors: 35 games

Record: 22-13 (4-3 in Grand Slam)

This duel is on the verge of the Top 5. And yet the rivalry between the two players only really existed for a short time. Their eight-year gap prevented them from facing each other at the height of their respective careers. Thus, Connors won the first eight duels, from 1979 to 1981, dropping only one set. The debates were then balanced, “Jimbo” still holding hands in Grand Slam (victories in the 1982 US Open final in 1983 and 1983).

Complicated moment between Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors, at Wimbledon.  (The team)

Complicated moment between Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors, at Wimbledon. (The team)

But age ended with him and Lendl left him with nothing since the end of the 1984 season. in the second round of 1992. US Open.

5- Ivan Lendl – John McEnroe: 36 games

Record: 21-15 (7-3 in Grand Slam)

The stylistic and character opposition between the placid Ivan Lendl and the bubbly John McEnroe marked the 1980s. This rivalry is marked by periods in which, in turn, they gained a strong ascendancy over their rival. The Czech, a naturalized American at the end of his career, achieved seven consecutive victories over McEnroe, between 1981 and 1982. Then “Mac” turned the balance of power, with eight victories in nine matches, until his confrontation against the most legendary, in the final of Roland-Garros in 1984.

Ivan Lendl lifts the trophy after the 1984 French Open final, ahead of a marked John McEnroe.  (Deschamps / Caron / The Team)

Ivan Lendl lifts the trophy after the 1984 French Open final, ahead of a marked John McEnroe. (Deschamps / Caron / The Team)

Despite two sets ahead, McEnroe had finally bowed out and missed his best chance of winning the Paris Grand Slam, which will never hang on his prize list. Lendl regained the lead at the end of their respective careers, with ten hits in their last eleven clashes.

4- Novak Djokovic – Andy Murray: 36 games

Record: 25-11 (8-2 in Grand Slam)

Both of the 1987 generation, Djokovic and Murray were struggling to determine who would take over from the Federer-Nadal duo at the top of world tennis. At their best, they offered anthology matches, with for example two epic duels in five sets in 2012 (Serbian victory in the semifinals at the Australian Open, revenge of the Scotsman in the final of the United States Open).

Novak Djokovic greets Andy Murray after beating him in the 2016 Roland-Garros final (P. Lahalle / L'Équipe)

Novak Djokovic greets Andy Murray after beating him in the 2016 Roland-Garros final (P. Lahalle / L’Équipe)

But Murray, who had time to compete with Djokovic in this field, declined physically and Djokovic became indomitable to him (eight straight victories from early 2014 to mid-2015). It should be noted that they have not been on the circuit since the final of the Doha tournament in 2017, won by the current world number one in three sets.

3- Rafael Nadal – Roger Federer: 40 matches

Record: 24-16 (10-4 in Grand Slam)

It was the great rivalry of the 2000s on the ATP Tour, between two sincere friends in life. Nadal, who was younger and arrived on the circuit at a time when Federer was number 1 in the world, soon established himself as a Basel pet. The latter had been defeated in Miami since his first match, in 2004, and won only ten of his first 33 matches.

Nadal has long prevented Federer from fulfilling his dream of winning Roland-Garros, beating him at Porte d’Auteuil four years in a row (from 2005 to 2008). He even committed the crime of injuring his majesty to defeat him at Wimbledon after a legendary final in 2008. Surprisingly, Federer has reversed the trend in recent years, with six victories in his last seven duels, including the final. of the Australian Open 2017..

2- Novak Djokovic – Roger Federer: 50 matches

Record: 27-23 (11-6 in Grand Slam)

2011 is a turning point in the clashes between Djokovic and Federer. Previously, the balance was favorable to the Swiss (13-6). Later, the Serb changed the face of his duels, although “Fed”, unlike Christmas, had more variety to face Djokovic. The significant generational gap (almost six years apart) and the physical dimension taken by Belgrade have widened the gap between the two men, particularly in the Grand Slam.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic greet each other after the Serbian's victory in the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2020. (P. Lahalle / L'Équipe)

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic greet each other after the Serbian’s victory in the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2020. (P. Lahalle / L’Équipe)

Federer has not won “Djoko” in the best of five sets in ten years and has suffered heartbreaking defeats, as in the 2019 Wimbledon final (13-12 defeat in the fifth set). The Serb has won six of his last seven matches.

1- Novak Djokovic – Rafael Nadal: 58 matches

Record: 30-28 (7-10 in Grand Slam)

The quarterfinals on Tuesday in Roland will be the first match between the Serb and the Spaniard in 2022, validating a 17e consecutive year with at least one clash between the two men (another record). Until the 2011 season of Djokovic’s “Cosmic Tennis”, Nadal had an advantage in direct matches (16-7).

But “Djoko”, whose exceptional physical condition allows him to compete where the Mallorcan used to impose his athletic dimension on his opponents, ended up taking the lead, tennis and psychologically. He had two sets of seven wins against Nadal and over the years has become the best equipped to defeat him on clay (eight hits, including two at Roland Garros, the only player to have won several times and “Rafa”).

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