Nadal will be facing Djokovic for the 26th time in their careersWe all remember it. That 2009 Madrid semifinal that dropped the hearts of Rafa fans to their feet & broke the hearts of Djokovic fans to pieces.
Many big words were used to describe that match and it was significant in more than one way, not just because it was labeled the longest best-of-3 Masters match ever, but because it validated a new rivalry that was in the making, one that saw Nadal and Djokovic face-off in three consecutive Masters 1000s (2 finals and one semi) on clay and in Madrid, Djokovic was ever-close to making the impossible and that was to beat Nadal on the dirt! Of course Federer did it the following day and it didn't seem so impossible after all but that's not the point.
Tomorrow (Sunday) we have the chance to experience a similar battle. It's 2 years and 4 Grand Slam wins later (shared by the two) and both Rafa and Nole have a lot at stake.
Nadal is the world number one, holder of 3 of the last 4 Grand Slams and is undefeated on clay in 37 consecutive matches dating back to Roland Garros 2009.
The Spaniard is 9-0 on clay against Djokovic but has lost twice already to the Serb this year in the Miami and Indian Wells finals. He is the defending champion in Madrid and is playing in front of 12500 spectators who are mostly Spaniards rooting for their hero.
Nadal may not feel it, or care about it per se, but Djokovic IS breathing down his neck in the rankings considering the world number 2 doesn't have the immense amount of points to defend in the upcoming couple of months like Nadal does.
Djokovic finds himself in a new position this year. He is undefeated in 33 straight matches dating back to last year's Davis Cup finals in December. They can be 34 tomorrow if he beats Rafa to win his 6th consecutive title of the year. SIX titles can you believe it? And it's barely May!
Both players fought hard in their semifinals on Saturday and had to rally back from a set down, so they're probably in a similar physical condition. I doubt anyone can confidently claim a winner in tomorrow's match but we should be able to bet on the fact that it's going to be something special.
One inevitable outcome will be that one of those two mind-boggling streaks will end tomorrow. Whose will it be? Rafa's or Nole's?
Here's a reminder of how the 2009 Madrid semifinal went down...