World number one Rafael Nadal is a two-time champion here, after winning the title in 2008 and 2010, while Novak Djokovic a three-time champion here following his successes in 2011, 2014 and 2015. It has, however, been a few years since either one was in a Wimbledon final, and neither reached this stage of the tournament twelve months ago. Nadal was beaten in the fourth round by Gilles Muller twelve months ago in an epic that saw the Spaniard lose out in five-sets. Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, was forced to retire with an injury during his quarter-final match against Tomas Berdych last year, an injury that would keep the Serbian out for the remainder of the season. These two will both be desperate to reach the final here once again, but who will do enough to edge out their rival to reach Sunday’s final?
World number one Rafael Nadal is finally back into the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the first time since 2011, and he won’t be looking to stop now. The Spaniard hadn’t been past the fourth round here since 2011, but now he’s in the latter stages of this tournament he’s going to prove to be extremely difficult to beat. The seventeen-time grand slam champion has been enjoying another fantastic season up to press, with the obvious highlight being his success in Roland Garros where he won his record-extending 11th French Open title. Nadal also managed to win his 11th Monte-Carlo Masters, 11th Barcelona Open and 8th Italian Open titles during a clay season in which he lost only one match. The Spaniard has been almost unbeatable this year, losing just two matches so far in 2018. Nadal’s only defeats came at the Madrid Masters against an inspired Dominic Thiem and at the Australian Open where he was forced to retire with an injury during his quarter-final match against Marin Cilic. The Spaniard has brought that form with him here, and he reached the quarter-finals without dropping a set. This came after a string of straight-set victories over Dudi Sela, Mikhail Kukushkin, Alex De Minaur and Jiri Vesely. Nadal was finally tested in the quarter-finals against an inspired Juan Martin del Potro, but it was Nadal who came through a near five-hour epic to win in five-sets. Can Nadal continue his astonishing start to 2018 by reaching the Wimbledon final?
Novak Djokovic is beginning to rediscover the kind of tennis that took him to three Wimbledon titles, and he’s looking the real deal right now. It’s been a tough two years for Djokovic, but he seems to finally be past the worst of it and he’s now playing the best tennis he has in a few years. Djokovic has looked inspired throughout this tournament, and he’s battled through the different challenges to reach this semi-final. The Serbian, like Nadal, has dropped two sets on his way to the semi-final, beating the likes of Tennys Sandgren, Horacio Zeballos and Karen Khachanov along the way. Djokovic has also beaten British number one Kyle Edmund and 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori on his way to this semi-final. It’s been a tough year for Djokovic up to press, and he suffered disappointing fourth round and quarter-final defeats at the Australian and French Opens, respectively, earlier in the season. The twelve-time grand slam champion did, however, reach his first final of the year in the build-up to Wimbledon at the Queen’s Club Championships, and his form on the whole has improved with each passing week. Djokovic will be the favourite with most to go onto win this title now, but is he mentally ready to reach his first grand slam final since the 2016 US Open?
These two are no strangers to grand slam semi-finals, and it almost certainly won’t be the last one either compete in. This will Djokovic’s 32nd grand slam semi-final, while his Spanish opponent is set to appear in his 28th grand slam semi-final. It’s Nadal who possesses the better record in these matches, holding a 24-3 record in grand slam semi’s, while Djokovic holds a 21-10 record in grand slam semi-finals. The Serbian has, however, won his last seven slam semi’s, although Nadal has incredibly won his last sixteen grand slam semi-finals, with his last defeat at this stage of a grand slam event coming way back at the 2009 US Open.
These two have both also played in their fair share of Wimbledon semi-finals, with Nadal set to appear in his 6th semi-final here, while Djokovic is set to appear in his 8th Wimbledon semi-final. Djokovic hasn’t loved this stage of the tournament, however, as he holds just a 4-3 record for Wimbledon semi-finals. Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, holds an immaculate 5-0 record in Wimbledon semi-finals, with his last semi-final triumph coming back in 2011. Will Djokovic be able to end Nadal’s perfect record in Wimbledon semi-finals?
Rafael Nadal has enjoyed a much better year than Djokovic, and it shows in their semi-final records for the season. Rafael Nadal has appeared in four semi-finals this year, and he’s won them all on the way to claiming those titles. The Spaniard actually holds a terrific recent record in semi-finals that has seen him win his last fourteen semi-finals. The Spaniard’s last defeat in a semi-final was at the 2016 Olympics, where he was beaten by Juan Martin del Potro. Meanwhile, Djokovic holds a 1-1 records for semi-finals in 2018, but he did manage to win his last one on his way to the Queen’s Club final. Can Nadal win a 15th straight semi-final, or can Djokovic snap the Spaniard’s streak?
The latest chapter in Nadal-Djokovic rivalry is upon us, and it could be an epic. These two have met an incredible 51 times over the years, and its Novak Djokovic who’s slightly edged those meetings, possessing a 26-25 head-to-head record over Nadal. However, Nadal has won their last two meetings, including one earlier this season at the Rome Masters. While Novak leads their head-to-head record overall, Nadal does lead their record in grand slam matches 9-4, while they’ve split their past Wimbledon meetings 1-1. Djokovic won the most recent of their Wimbledon meetings, as he won his first Wimbledon title by beating the Spaniard in the 2011 final. However, Nadal leads their head-to-head record on grass 2-1, although they haven’t met on this surface since the before mentioned 2011 Wimbledon final. It’s Nadal who also leads their semi-final head-to-head record 10-8, while he’s yet to taste defeat to Novak in grand slam semi-finals, boasting an impressive 4-0 record in grand slam semi-finals against his great rival. The could be a match for the ages, but who will come out on top to reach yet another Wimbledon final?
Rafael Nadal 3-2
I think this match goes the distance, and I think it’s Nadal who comes out on the winning side of it. The Spaniard has been in incredible form this year, losing just two matches in all and winning a brilliant four titles so far. The Spaniard is also on a 17-match winning streak right now, and he comes into this match full of confidence. Novak Djokovic will fight to the end though, and I think he pushes Nadal to the brink. However, Nadal has played a lot more ‘big matches’ over the last couple of year and when it gets to the crunch point I think Djokovic is more likely to panic, as he’s not been used to this kind of pressure over the last couple of years. The head-to-head stats are also in Nadal’s favour and his recent record in semi-finals has been second to none. I think this match has come slightly too early for Djokovic on his road back to the top, and I see Nadal winning a classic 3-2, maintaining his unbeaten record in Wimbledon semi-finals.
These two are both fighters, and neither will give up on anything in this match, and so I see it being a long one. While Nadal has looked fantastic this season, Djokovic has looked fantastic throughout this tournament and they’re both coming into this match playing at a similar level. I think they’ll both win multiple sets and therefore I think the value in this match is with there being over 41.5 games, something that I think will be comfortably achieved.