PARIS (AFP) - Rafael Nadal believes all the pressure will be on Novak Djokovic in Wednesday's French Open quarter-final with the nine-time champion dismissing the headline-grabbing collision as not vital.
He has defeated world number one Djokovic six times out of six at Roland Garros where the Spaniard boasts a record of 70 wins and just one loss.
Three of his victories against Djokovic have been in the last three years - in the 2012 and 2014 finals and 2013 semi-final.
In contrast to Nadal's domination, Djokovic remains frustratingly just one French Open title short of a career Grand Slam, something already achieved by the Spaniard, fellow present-day rival Roger Federer and five other men.
"This is not vital," said Nadal who has not played Djokovic at such an early stage of any tournament for eight years.
"If it was a final, things would be different. It's a quarter-final and if you win, you go to the semi-final. It's not a matter of lifting the trophy.
"Last year, I beat him in the final. This is not the match of the year. Matches of the year are finals and decisive matches. If I lose the quarter-final, my life won't change."
Top seed Djokovic eased into the last eight on Monday with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 win over France's Richard Gasquet while Nadal, seeking a 10th Roland Garros crown, saw off unseeded American Jack Sock 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.
Nadal, who will celebrate his 29th birthday on Wednesday, could drop out of the world top 10 if he loses to Djokovic.
But he says his main priority is to finish the full season unlike 2014 when he missed virtually the entire second half of the campaign, including the defence of his US Open title.
Djokovic said he will try and stick to his usual routine but admitted that facing his old adversary so early feels unusual.
"Playing him here and playing him in any other tournament is completely different," said the 28-year-old Serb.
"But the conditions are very suited to his style of game."