Nadal lost a one-set lead as he struggled with his chronic injury in a 1-6 7-5 6-3 defeat to the world No 16 on Thursday. It means the 10-time champion in Rome won’t be able to continue his shared streak with Djokovic, with one or both men reaching at least the final every year since 2005.
The five-time former champion at the Italian Open is now under pressure to keep up their incredible record by making the final, as he faces Felix Auger-Aliassime in Friday’s quarter-final with Casper Ruud awaiting in the semis. It will be a first career meeting between the Serb and the world No 9, and Djokovic also has extra pressure to win their first clash.
The 20-time Major champion will lose his world No 1 ranking to Daniil Medvedev if he doesn’t reach the semi-final, which would also cost him the top-seeded position at the upcoming French Open. Meanwhile, Auger-Aliassime is playing to secure himself a top-eight seeding at the clay-court Grand Slam.
JUST IN: Russia thanks stars for opposing Wimbledon ban and blast Svitolina