Rafael Nadal has won 13 straight matches in the clay season – 10th titles at Monte Carlo and Barcelona – as he chases another 10th at the French Open, which starts next week.
At the ongoing Madrid Masters, the king of clay will have to battle past World No.2, Novak Djokovic in the semis on Saturday – a player Nadal has lost to on the last seven occasions that they have met.
Even though Nadal leads the head-to-head confrontations against Djokovic 14-7 in matches on clay, in their last meeting on the same surface, which was in Rome last year, Djokovic beat Nadal in two straight sets.
In total head-to-heads, the Serb leads the Spaniard 26-23 and this week announced the dissolution of his former team of coaches to reignite his career that flailed last year.
But Nadal would be motivated by making history as he bids to become the first player in history to win all three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court events, the Barcelona Open and the French Open in the same season.
The other semi-final is between Dominic Thiem and Pablo Cuevas, and the final is on Sunday.