French Open Semifinal Prediction: Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Rome 2021

For the ninth time at the French Open (fourth time in a semifinal) and 58th (!) time overall, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will do battle. This time, the prize is being the heavy favorite in Sunday’s final. Nadal is chasing an all-time record 21st Grand Slam title. Djokovic, meanwhile, is aiming for #19, and to become the first man in the Open Era to win every Major twice. And when these two meet, there are always fireworks.

Djokovic has won one of their eight French Open meetings (the 2015 quarterfinal). Can he win a second time? Our writers share their thoughts. Predicting this match are Jack Edward, Damian Kust, Harsh Bhoot, and Andrew Watson. Who do you think will win? (We also have predictions for the other men’s semifinal, between Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.)

French Open Semifinal Predictions

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Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic

Though Djokovic was destroyed by Nadal in last year’s French Open final, their latest meeting in Rome gives me the impression Djokovic has once more found a way to stay competitive against Nadal on clay. At the same time, when Nadal hit his peak at the tail end of the Schwartzman and Sinner matches, he looked terrifyingly in-form. It won’t be a whitewash, but Nadal should find his A-game if things start to get dicey.
Prediction: Nadal in 4

Last year, everyone expected Nadal against Djokovic in the Roland Garros final to turn out to be a huge battle. We know what happened, and I don’t feel at all confident that it could be that much different now. This has been a terrible matchup for Djokovic in recent years (on clay). 105-2 on the Parisian clay is a win/loss record that will never be broken, and before Nadal is declining rapidly or a worthy opponent shows up, I’m just not picking against him here.
Prediction: Nadal in 4

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Both players have been tested so far and it feels like both of them enter this match at full throttle. Perhaps unfortunately for fans, this rivalry has been a tale of surfaces lately–with Djokovic dominating on hard courts and Nadal on clay. So far Nadal has looked mighty strong and if he maintains his level it should be good enough for the win.
Prediction: Nadal in 4

The Serbian seemed particularly fired up in getting over the line against Matteo Berrettini. It feels as though he thinks he has a point to prove to himself, the fans, the media, or maybe Rafa Nadal. Nadal was under pressure against Diego Schwartzman at points in his quarterfinal but you never really thought he could lose. I feel similarly with this match as well. It’s been a while since Djokovic could really match or boss Nadal at Roland Garros, and last year’s match was as one sided as they come. I don’t think that Djokovic has improved enough in 2021 to come up to the level required. He may sneak a set but I predict another Nadal victory.
Prediction: Nadal in 3

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