Nadal and Djokovic to Face Off in Roland Garros Quarterfinals

Nadal and Djokovic to Face Off in Roland Garros Quarterfinals

4 min read

The dream matchup of 2022 is going to happen, just a lot earlier than anyone could have ever imagined. In Tuesday’s Roland Garros quarterfinal action, Rafael Nadal (UTR Rating 16.11) and Novak Djokovic (UTR Rating 16.16) will square off for the 59th time.

For a little while on Sunday it looked like the quarterfinal matchup of the tournament wouldn’t happen as No. 6-seeded Nadal was challenged by No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Let's get a closer look into the men's quarterfinal matchups with Universal Tennis INSIGHTS,

Nadal and Djokovic to Battle for Semifinal Spot

Over four hours and 21 minutes, Nadal managed to get past the Canadian, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. It marked just the third time in 112 matches that Nadal has played a five-setter at Roland Garros (his record there is 109-3).

“Being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if it's going to be my last match here in Roland Garros. ... That’s my situation now," Nadal said. “That's why I am just trying to enjoy as much as possible.”

The test for Nadal couldn’t have come at a worse time as the 35-year-old looks to recover in time for Tuesday’s blockbuster against World No. 1 Djokovic. The Serbian cruised past his fourth-round opponent Diego Schwartzman in straight sets. The 35-year-old spent just 2 hours and 16 minutes on court and has yet to lose a set this fortnight.

Rafael Nadal cruised through his first three matches until facing Felix Auger-Aliassime. (AP Photo: Thibault Camus)

“It’s a huge challenge,” Djokovic said of Nadal, “and probably the biggest one that you can have here in Roland Garros. I’m ready for it.”

Per INSIGHTS, Djokovic has a slighter higher chance of winning at 52%. He has the higher three-month trending and clay UTR Rating, and his win-loss record has been stronger at 73-11 over the past 15 months compared to Nadal’s 51-8.

They’ve split their most recent meetings but Djokovic leads the head-to-head record against Nadal 30-28. They haven’t played each other this early in a tournament since the quarterfinals of Roland Garros in 2015, when Djokovic beat Nadal in straight sets. Djokovic also got the better of the Spaniard in last year’s Roland Garros semifinals. Nadal holds the overall Grand Slam record at 21 after winning the Australian Open, while Djokovic has 20 (along with Roger Federer).

Alcaraz Races to First Paris Quarterfinal

The winner of Djokovic and Nadal will take on the victor between Carlos Alcaraz (16.14) and Alexander Zverev (15.87). Alcaraz and Zverev cruised on Sunday in straight-set wins over Karen Khachanov and Bernabe Zapata Miralles, respectively.

Alcaraz is touted by INSIGHTS as the tournament's second favorite with 19% odds of winning his first major (behind Djokovic at 21%). The 19-year-old is into his second career Grand Slam quarterfinal and first in Paris. The hype is real though as he won four titles in 2022 including Madrid, where he beat Nadal, Djokovic, and Zverev.

In one of the more amusing stats of the fortnight, Alcaraz was just two years old when Nadal reached his first Roland Garros quarterfinal in 2005 on his way to his first of 13 titles.

Carlos Alcaraz has a 19% chance, per INSIGHTS, of winning it all in Paris. (AP Photo: Thibault Camus)

Zverev has famously struggled to play his best on the grandest stages of the sport but has turned that statistic around as of late. The 25-year-old German reached the semifinals in Paris last year and was a 2020 Australian Open semifinalist and US Open finalist.

According to INSIGHTS, Alcaraz is favored at 67% odds of reaching his first major semifinal. Zverev bested the young Spaniard twice last year but Alcaraz’s first win over the German was emphatic: a 6-3, 6-1 win in the Madrid final. Alcaraz also has the higher clay UTR Rating by a noticeable margin, 16.12 to 15.86.

In the bottom half of the men's draw, Casper Ruud (15.75) is safely through to the quarterfinals after his four-set win over Hubert Hurkacz on Monday. On Wednesday, he'll take on 19-year-old Holger Rune (15.60) after the fast-rising Dane stunned No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. Rune was one of INSIGHTS' top dark horses going into the tournament. Ruud is favored at 57% but that means the young Dane has a decent shot at another upset. Regardless, he's the first Danish man into a major quarterfinal since Jan Leschly in 1967.

The last remaining quarterfinal will see No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev (15.77) face 33-year-old Marin Cilic (15.68). Cilic shut out No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 on Monday to reach his third Roland Garros quarterfinal. The Croatian, who won the US Open back in 2014, is the best performer of the tournament (per INSIGHTS), playing like a UTR Rating 16.05 (+0.37) over four matches.

Stay tuned for more from INSIGHTS, and to learn more about Universal Tennis, click here.

•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 8 a.m. EST, May 30, 2022.

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