Go all the way back to June 8, 2006, when Rafael Nadal moved on at the French Open after his 19-year-old, 63rd-ranked opponent in the quarterfinals quit because of a bad back while trailing two sets to none.
That opponent’s assessment of Nadal after facing him for the first time as pros: “He’s the best on this surface, but he’s not unbeatable. That’s for sure.”
That foe? Novak Djokovic. Fast-forward to the final at Roland Garros on Sunday, when No. 1 Djokovic and No. 2 Nadal will stand across from each other once again at Court Philippe Chatrier, only this time in October after the tournament was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It will be their 56th tour-level meeting – more than any other pair of men in the Open era, which dates to 1968.
And let’s not forget the big picture: This match carries significant weight in