Are Djokovic and Nadal always drawn together on clay?

Are Djokovic and Nadal always drawn together on clay?

TLDR: not always but certainly more than expected. 

The Barcelona draw was released yesterday and it projects Nadal and Djokovic to meet in the quarterfinals. Keen observers may have noticed that this seems to be the case quite often lately so below we have provided a summary of their possible meetings since 2015.

What we have listed are the clay tournaments where both Djokovic and Nadal played, the earliest they could have met based on their seeding and their projected meeting based on the draw. This includes tournaments where they didn't actually meet, however * indicates that they did meet at the specified tournament. 

The latest possible meeting for all these tournaments is the final. 

Barcelona 2018

  • Earliest possible meeting: quarterfinal.
  • Projected meeting: quarterfinal.

Monte Carlo 2018

  • Earliest possible meeting: round of 16.
  • Projected meeting: quarterfinal.

French Open 2017

  • Earliest possible meeting: semifinal.
  • Projected meeting: semifinal.

Rome 2017

  • Earliest possible meeting: semifinal.
  • Projected meeting: semifinal.

Madrid 2017*

  • Earliest possible meeting: semifinal.
  • Projected meeting: semifinal.

Monte Carlo 2017

  • Earliest possible meeting: semifinal.
  • Projected meeting: semifinal.

French Open 2016

  • Earliest possible meeting: semifinal.
  • Projected meeting: semifinal.

Rome 2016*

  • Earliest possible meeting: quarterfinal.
  • Projected meeting: quarterfinal.

Madrid 2016

  • Earliest possible meeting: quarterfinal.
  • Projected meeting: final.

Monte Carlo 2016

  • Earliest possible meeting: quarterfinal.
  • Projected meeting: final.

French Open 2015*

  • Earliest possible meeting: quarterfinal.
  • Projected meeting: quarterfinal.

Rome 2015

  • Earliest possible meeting: semifinal.
  • Projected meeting: final.

Monte Carlo 2015*

  • Earliest possible meeting: semifinal.
  • Projected meeting: semifinal.

Since 2015 they have been drawn as early as possible 9/13 times (69%), which is quite high when you consider that they had a 50% chance of being drawn in the same half. 

Furthermore they have been drawn in the same quarter 4/6 times (67%) when their seeding has permitted it. This is very high when you consider that they had a 25% chance of being drawn in the same quarter. 

For most of their clay meetings from 2011-14 they were the top two seeds and therefore would only meet in the final, except in 2013 where they were drawn together/apart at a quite even rate. The same could be said for their clay meetings prior to 2011.

A final remark worth mentioning is that at every French Open since 2010, Djokovic and Nadal have been drawn as early as possible. That's 5/5 if you exclude the 3 times when they were the top two seeds.

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