Djokovic and Nadal, with 10 of the last 12 Grand Slam titles between them, square off for the 35th time in their careers in Friday's semifinals. The other semifinal has fourth-seeded David Ferrer going against local favorite and sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who are both looking for their first major tournament title.
Djokovic is in his 12th consecutive major tournament semifinal and needs a French Open title to complete the career Grand Slam. Nadal has won seven of the last eight French Open championships and is an amazing 57-1 at Roland Garros.
These two have been the dominant forces on the ATP this year. Nadal is 41-2 this year with six titles and two runner-up finishes in eight tournaments. One of the losses was to Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters. Djokovic is 33-4 with three titles, including the Australian Open, in seven tournaments.
The Monte Carlo match was their only meeting this year. The previous pairing before that was in the finals of last year's French Open, which Nadal took 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. Nadal is ahead 19-15 in a career series that started in the 2006 French Open quarterfinals.
"Now I have a big challenge in front of me and I'm ready for it," Djokovic said after his quarterfinal Wednesday. "I have been playing well. I know that this is the biggest challenge for me in Roland Garros, no question about it, and I'm sure that it's going to be quite a good match."
The other semifinal doesn't have the marquee value but is intriguing. Ferrer, even at 31, seems ready make a career statement. He's won two tournaments this year and has three runner-up finishes. That might have been even more impressive except he's drawn Nadal three times this year, losing all three matches.
"For me, it's maybe one of my best victories," Tsonga said Tuesday after the Federer win. "[But] the tournament is not finished and I hope I will have some more.
"Sport is beautiful because you can always do something. Even if you play the best player in the world, you have a chance. Because the guy in front of you only has two legs, two arms, one head."