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By Chris Oddo | Saturday, March 29, 2014

 
Djokovic-Nadal, circa 2012

On the eve of Nadal-Djokovic, episode 40, we take a look back at five hair-raising moments from episodes one through thirty-nine.

Photo Source: ABC Australia

Since Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic first met in 2006, there have been no shortage of mind-blowing points and hair-raising moments where the tension is so thick one can pick it up with chopsticks. The rivalry has taken many twists and turns, and the momentum has changed hands many times. Where are we headed on Sunday, as Djokovic and Nadal meet for a record 40th time in the Miami final? It's hard to predict. All we can say is that if number 40 is anything near as compelling as the first 39 have been, tennis fans are in good shape.

>>>Nadal-Djokovic, Inside the Numbers, Episode 40

While you wait for tomorrow's final, here's a quick dip into the YouTube archives for five Nadal-Djokovic moments that we'll always treasure:

Miami Videos: Baghdatis Lucks Out | Petko's Hidden Talent | Nadal's Mach 4 Forehand | The Ninja Dazzles Again in Miami

1. The epic at the Magic Box in Madrid.

This would be the last of Nadal's run of nine straight victories on clay against Djokovic, and you can tell from this video that it was also the toughest for the Spaniard to notch. At 4:03, this match is the longest match in Masters 1000 history. Leave it to these two guys...

For a great laugh, go to 7:00 on this video. Just trust me.



2. The Longest Grand Slam Final in History in Australia

This one needs no introduction. It only needs to be worshipped.


3. The Best Clay-Court Match of All-Time?

It took a lot of unbelievable shots like this one from Nadal to get by Djokovic in the match that was called the “greatest clay-court match of all-time” by John McEnroe. We're in agreement. Given Rafa's status as the king of clay, and Djokovic's unyielding desire to finally take him down on the terre battue, this one was high in drama well before the first ball was struck. That it lived up to the lofty expectations and then some makes it the best semifinal that should have been a final that we've ever seen. And the Djokovic's ill-timed net touch added that extra touch of drama that put the match over the top.




4. Djokovic's Ends Nadal's Reign in Monte Carlo

Djokovic hasn't been able to get Nadal in Roland Garros, but he's the only player who has even come reasonably close to competing with Rafa on the red clay. That's a testament to the all-court stylings and will power of Djokovic. His clay game was on full display on this day in Monte Carlo in 2013, where he became the first player to ever defeat Nadal in the Principality after 46 consecutive match wins and eight titles.




5. Nadal Wins his Second U.S. Open—and 13th Slam—Title

The 2013 U.S. Open final was one of Nadal's finest moments on any surface. In the midst of a stunningly brilliant run of form on the hard courts, Nadal threw everything he had at Djokovic. It was actually quite an achievement that the Serb could find a way to win a set in this match (he actually played some of the most remarkable tennis we've ever seen in that third set), but in the end, when Nadal passed Rod Laver to move into third place on the all-time Grand Slam title list, it was clear that this was a very special final, both for Nadal and for the epic rivalry that he and Djokovic have developed.


 

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