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Another record for Nadal and Djokovic – the new most decorated match in history

The number bods have done the calculations – what a prospect is in store tonight…and it’s only a quarter-final

Nadal, Djokovic, Grand Slam Nadal, Djokovic, Grand Slam – © Panoramic

The Roland-Garros quarter-final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic may not be the summit of tennis and tension that happened last year in the semi-final, but we know something for sure : it will be the most decorated of all time when it comes to major titles.

The stats whizzes at Jeu, Set et Maths have run the numbers for Tennis Majors – and this pair will be extending their own record when they take to the court in Paris this evening.

The pair have an incredible 41 Grand Slam titles between them21 for the Spaniard, 20 for the world No 1.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have good track records

It is the first time that more than 40 major trophies (and possibly even more) run simultaneously on a tennis court in competition.

Prior to today, the most Slam titles on court at any one time has been 38, which has happened three times :

  • when Nadal (18) played Roger Federer (20) at Wimbledon in 2019 semi-final,
  • last year when Nadal (then with 20) and Djokovic (then with 18) faced each other, in Rome and then at Roland-Garros.

It’s notable that Roland-Garros, supposedly the most exhausting tournament to win, led to four of the six “biggest” matches ever in terms of prestige – including the semi-final of 2019 between Nadal and Federer and the final of 2020 between Nadal and Djokovic. Nadal won both of these matches in straight sets.

There is no trend in the ability of one or the other to win more at this stage: Nadal, Federer and Djokovic all have a good track record in this list of the most decorated match of all time.

Evert-Navratilova and Sampras-Agassi, the other “massive” matches

Leaving aside the Big Three, the most Slams on court in a men’s match was in the 2002 US Open final, when Pete Sampras (13) faced Andre Agassi (7), that is to say 20 trophies – which then became 21 as Sampras won his 14th on this day.

That means that Rafael Nadal on his own represents more major trophies than any of the matches between the greatest on the men’s side before the year 2010 – and that Agassi and Sampras between them muster only half of the Slams boasted by any two of the Big Three.

In the women’s game, the famous rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova is the most decorated. With 17 Slam titles for Navratilova and 18 for Evert, they had 35 major crowns on court in their six encounters after the former’s 1987 US Open triumph.

Before the end of the year 2017, when Roger Federer reached 19 trophies while Nadal gained 16, the record was held by Evert and Navratilova and it lasted for 20 years.

Evert and Navratilova represent 11 of the 12 most decorated matches ever for women. Steffi Graf – perhaps inevitably – breaks their dominance, being part of a match with 33 Slams on court when she faced Navratilova in Tokyo in 1994.

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