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Nadal braced for ‘complex’ Djokovic in 52nd meeting

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London :  Rafael Nadal described long-time rival Novak Djokovic as “one of the more complex” players he’s ever met as they prepare to clash for the 52nd time on Friday with a Wimbledon final spot at stake.

World number one Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion at the All England Club, trails Djokovic, the 2011, 2014 and 2015 winner, 26-25 in a rivalry which began at Roland Garros 12 years ago.

Along the way, they have fought out a series of classic and epic battles including Djokovic’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 Australian Open final victory in 2012.

At five hours and 53 minutes, it was the longest final ever at a Slam.

The following year, Nadal downed the Serb, who was world number one at the time, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 in the semi-finals in Paris, this time in four hours and 37 minutes.

“It’s always a big challenge to face Novak,” said 32-year-old Nadal who is back in the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the first time since 2011 when he finished runner-up to Djokovic.

“He is one of the more complex players that I ever saw in our sport. You know that you can’t win against him if you don’t play very well.”

Nadal is chasing an 18th Grand Slam title which would put him just two behind Roger Federer who was sensationally knocked out in the quarter-finals by Kevin Anderson.

For his part, Djokovic is eyeing a 13th major after making the semi-finals of a Slam for the first time since finishing runner-up at the 2016 US Open.

 

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