Carving up the Nadal-Djokovic head-to-head

by thriding

With Djokovic beating Nadal in the Miami Masters final yesterday, the head-to-head of the two players is now 22-18 in Nadal’s favour.

This stat – like most relating to Djokovic – breaks cleanly into two eras: before and after the Davis Cup final at the end of 2010

  • Up to 2010 head to head: 16-7
  • Since 2011 head to head: 6-11

It also varies by surface:

  • Clay: 13-3
  • Grass: 2-1
  • Indoor: 2-3
  • Outdoor hard: 5-11

Head-to-head, divided by both surface and era:

Up to 2010:

  • Clay: 9-0
  • Grass: 2-0
  • Indoor: 2-2
  • Outdoor hard: 3-5

Since 2011:

  • Clay: 4-3
  • Grass: 0-1
  • Indoor: 0-1
  • Outdoor hard: 2-6

Things to notice:

  • In the current era the balance on clay is almost equal – and that makes the fact that Nadal won both of their French Open matches in it note-worthy
  • In the current era Djokovic is highly dominant on outdoor hard courts – and that makes the fact that Nadal won the US Open 2013 final even more note-worthy
  • The momentum is thoroughly heading towards an equal head-to-head: roughly over the next couple of years we might expect Djokovic to win 8 of the next 12 meetings, to balance the head to head at 26-26 – but are we really expecting nothing to change in the next 24 months?!


Had I looked at the breakdown of their head-to-head more closely before yesterday’s match then I might have done more than shrug my shoulders and say, I dunno, when asked who was favourite: on an outdoor hard court in a three-set match Djokovic is the clear favourite

It seems fair to expect Nadal and Djokovic to meet a couple of times at the three clay Masters this spring, and that they’ll win one each, taking the clay head-to-head since the start of 2011 to 5-4

If they meet in the RG final in June, what then? Over five sets, has Djokovic forgotten how he won in 2011 and early 2012? Here are their GS meetings since the start of 2011:

  1. Wimbledon 2011: Djokovic
  2. US Open 2011: Djokovic
  3. Australian Open 2012: Djokovic
  4. French Open 2012: Nadal
  5. French Open 2013: Nadal
  6. US Open 2013: Nadal

So right now we have two different patterns on a collision:

  1. On clay the two are almost equal; on hard courts Djokovic is dominant
  2. In five-set matches Nadal wins

Personally I would need to see an utterly dominant display from Djokovic against Nadal in this spring’s ATP1000s before I would even consider picking him to beat Nadal over five sets at Roland Garros.