French Open: Nadal and Djokovic set to sparkle under the lights on Court Philippe-Chatrier

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Sixteen years after they first met in a grand slam Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will do battle in another mouthwatering French Open quarter-final on Tuesday.

Two of the all-time greats have locked horns 58 times in their illustrious careers, but only two of those meetings have been in the last eight of a major.

The first of those was in their first meeting, which happened to be at the same stage at Roland Garros back in 2006.

Nadal progressed to the semi-finals on that occasion as Djokovic retired at 6-4 6-4 down and the legendary Spaniard went on to defend his title and double his tally of major triumphs.

He has gone on to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires a record 13 times and no man can boast more than his tally of 21 grand slam titles.

Yet Nadal comes into the latest instalment of their rivalry under the lights on Court Philippe-Chatrier in the unfamiliar position of not being a strong favourite to prevail.

While world number one and defending champion Djokovic has not dropped a set in his four matches in Paris, Nadal needed five sets to get the better of Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday.

Nadal had to draw on all of his fight, skill and experience to see off the Canadian in an enthralling contest that had spectators on the edge of their seats for four hours and 21 minutes.

Djokovic beat Nadal in four sets the last time they faced each other in this tournament last year and the Serb went on to be crowned French Open champion for the second time.

The top seed from Belgrade would move level with Nadal's haul of major crowns if he triumphs at Roland Garros once again on Sunday.

Djokovic holds a superior record of 30-28 in his head-to-head with Nadal, but the latter has won seven of their nine matches at Roland Garros.

Nadal started his favourite tournament with only five matches on clay under his belt this season after recovering from a foot injury, but he is relishing the challenge of facing one of his biggest rivals.

He said: "I didn't play this kind of matches for the last three months, so it's going to be a big challenge for me. Of course he already won I think nine matches in a row, winning in Rome and now winning here in straight sets every match.

"Probably he will be confident. I know what my situation is, and I accept it well. I am gonna fight for it, that's it."

Djokovic hopes being the fresher of the two will be crucial.

"Nadal is obviously a well-anticipated match I think when the draw came out for a lot of people. I'm glad that I didn't spend too much time on the court up to quarter-finals, knowing that playing him in Roland Garros is always a physical battle, along with everything else," he said.

"It's a huge challenge and probably the biggest one that you can have here in Roland Garros."

While Djokovic did not spend much time on court in the first week in Paris, he could be in for a late night when the two tussle in what could be yet another epic.

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