Thanks for visiting the Australian Open Website. We can see you’re using Internet Explorer, and wanted to let you know that we will no longer be supporting this browser in future. We’d recommend you download a new browser if you'd like to continue keeping up with all of the latest tennis news!

In Rome, Djokovic and Nadal finally back at same event

  • Rhys de Deugd

For the best part of two decades, the legendary names Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal routinely appeared in the same drawsheets at the game’s biggest events.

But for the two men with the greatest number of Grand Slam singles titles in history, they have not played in the same tournament together in over 15 months.

Australian Open 2023 marked the last time the pair competed in the same event, when Djokovic equalled Nadal’s record for the most men’s Grand Slam singles titles.

You must go all the way back to Roland Garros in 2022 to find the last time both names featured in the same event on clay.

This was  the stage for the duo’s most recent meeting, where Nadal eliminated Djokovic in the quarterfinals on his way to his famous 14th title in Paris.

To the delight of tennis fans everywhere, Djokovic and Nadal are both competing at this week’s ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome.

Despite a slow start, Nadal opened his campaign with a win over Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs.

Australian tennis legend Wally Masur said on Thursday’s episode of The AO Show Weekly that he believes Nadal is still seeking competitive consistency in the final chapters of his career.

“Rafa can beat anybody on a given day,” said Masur, a two-time Grand Slam singles semifinalist.

“To back up and be at his best, as we know he did so well over the course of his 18- or 19-year career, that's his challenge now.”

The Spaniard showed he was beginning to find his feet last week in Madrid, with his first top-50 win of the year against world No.11 Alex de Minaur.

Nadal will face another big test in his next match-up in Rome, when he battles world No.9 Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the third round.

LISTEN: The latest episode of The AO Show

“Hurkacz’ mobility on clay is maybe something Nadal can exploit,” Masur said of the 10-time Rome champion. “We will see. It will tell us a lot.”

Djokovic, meanwhile, enters Rome as the oldest men’s top seed in the tournament’s history.

In just his second clay event for the year, the 24-time Grand Slam champion’s preparation for Roland Garros intrigues Masur.

“I think this is an important week for Novak,” he said. “I'm curious; you do need a volume of matches to be at your best or close to your best.”

Success in Rome may be a good indication of what lies ahead in Paris for the world No.1. Of the three times Djokovic has won Roland Garros, he was a Rome finalist in two of those same years.

“He's been very good in the past at measuring, almost to perfection, his schedule,” Masur said

“An early exit in Rome, I don't think it's something that would stand in him in good stead in Paris.

“But we will see. Never discount Novak.”