Rafael Nadal believes long-time rival Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player of all time and says “there is nothing to discuss” about the sport’s GOAT debate. The Serb recently won a record-extending 24th grand slam singles title at the US Open, taking him two clear of Nadal in second place. Djokovic can also boast a record 39 Masters 1000 titles, three ahead of Nadal, and the most weeks spent at world No. 1 with 392, 82 weeks more than Roger Federer in second place.
“I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics and, in that sense, I think he has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable,” Nadal told Spanish outlet Diario AS . “It is not beneath me nor do I have an ego big enough to try to disguise a reality that is not. This is the truth. “The rest are tastes, inspiration, sensations that one player or the other may transmit to you, that you may like one or the other more.
I think that with respect to titles, Djokovic is the best in history and there is nothing to discuss in that.”
Nadal added that some people could say he’d had “bad luck” with injuries and Djokovic has enjoyed better fortune, but said philosophically that “in some ways, that is also part of the sport.”
“I congratulate him for everything he is achieving and that does not cause me any type of frustration,” Nadal said.
“I have said it when I was the one who won the most slams, I said it when we were tied and I say it now that I am behind. “I am not going to be the one who tries, through a personal struggle, to want to be what I am not. What is, is and what is not, is not.
I say this very satisfied with everything I have done.”
The 37-year-old Nadal hasn’t played competitive tennis since injuring his hip in a second-round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald in January’s Australian Open and said in May – after pulling out of the French Open – that next season will be his last on the tour. Nadal says he remains “pretty convinced” that he will retire after next year, but admits he “can’t say 100%.”
“If suddenly things are working very well, physically I feel fine, my head usually works normally.
If I feel competitive and enjoy what I do, why would I limit myself?” he said. Nadal says he is currently either training or undergoing rehab twice a day to prepare for next season but is still playing very little tennis. The ‘King of Clay’ reiterated that he does not want his final year in tennis to just be a farewell tour and he intends to be competitive on the court, but says he is “very aware” – and has even “assumed” – that this might not be the case.
“Right now, that’s not in my head, [I’m] just putting myself in a situation where I can train and reach a competitive level to be able to play on the circuit,” he said. “This is my current dream, to go out on a tennis court and feel like I can play competitively. This is the first objective. “Afterwards, you never know. If I’m only good enough to go out on a court and feel that I’m only going out to be minimally competitive, to not be a disaster, then I’m not going to play much.
I’m going to play the few tournaments I feel like saying goodbye to.”
The worst case scenario is also something Nadal has thought about, with the Spaniard admitting “there is also the possibility that I may not recover and not play again.”
“I hope that is not the case, but one has to be realistic, know the difficulty in which one finds oneself today and live it naturally.”
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