At the 1976 Volvo International in North Conway, the world’s leading singles players Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe stepped on the court in the doubles, scored two wins and lost in the quarter-final. Thirty-four years later, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, no. 1 and no. 2 in singles, joined forces and competed at Canada Masters in Toronto. Djokovic and Nadal played alongside each other for the first time and forged the first doubles team of two leading singles players since Connors and Ashe! Novak and Rafa met the young Canadians Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic on August 9 and suffered a tight 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 loss in an hour and 34 minutes on Centre Court. Nadal and Djokovic seized two out of eight break chances and suffered two breaks against the youngsters, who opened a massive lead in the match tie break and brought the victory home.
Milos and Vasek survived in the opener’s games three and seven and broke the prominent rivals in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead. Novak and Rafa fended off two set points on the return in game nine and claimed four consecutive games to win the first set 7-5 and gain a boost. The Serb and the Spaniard squandered break chances at 2-2 in the second set, which would cost them dearly, as they got broken at 3-4 before Milos and Vasek closed the set on their serve to force the match tie break. The home players forged a 5-0 and an 8-2 lead and seized the fourth match point at 9-8 to move over the top. Novak was pleased about sharing the court with Rafa, calling him a legend and one of the greatest players of all time. Also, the Serb wished to see them on the court again in the future, although they have never signed to play doubles together again.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played together in Toronto 2010.
“I wish to play with Rafa again in the future; we will talk about that. Both of us were thinking about playing doubles together eventually. Throughout the last two years, we have been trying to get together and play some events. Of course, we always prioritize singles. Rafa was obviously playing more with the Spanish players because of the Davis Cup, and of course, they’re his friends and countrymen. And the other side, I did, as well. But we did it in the end, and now we have a reason to believe that we can pair up in the future, the near future, I hope. I do not know what he thinks, but I will definitely accept that challenge again.
Rafa and I joked before the tournament, and if we reach the final, the winner will pay a private jet to Cincinnati. Jokes aside, it was a great experience playing with Rafa, who is, for me, one of the best players ever to play this game, and he still has many years to come; he’s a legend and a good friend of mine. To stand on the court with him as world no. 1 and world no. 2 was history for our sport, and it attracted a lot of attention from the media and fans. I think these things should happen more often in men’s tennis. We did lose, but it was our first match; we felt like a team at some points, but we were still not feeling comfortable. We had a great time on the court, and we will definitely try to do it again,” Novak Djokovic said.