Rafa Nadal has moved to clarify his comments on Novak Djokovic after angering the Serbian star's legion of fans in a recent interview. Speaking to Movistar+ this week, Nadal appeared to offer grudging congratulations to Djokovic after he won his 24th grand slam title with victory at the US Open.
In doing so he equalled Margaret Court's all-time grand slam record and moved two clear of Nadal (22 majors), and four clear of Roger Federer (20). When Nadal was asked if he was frustrated to see Djokovic extend his lead, the Spaniard said: “I’m not frustrated for a simple reason. I believe that within my possibilities I have done everything in my power to have things go as well as possible for me.
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“I think Novak, in that sense, lives things more intensely than the way I have lived them. For him, I think it would have been a bigger frustration if he had not achieved it… and maybe that’s the reason he achieved it.”
The comments left Djokovic fans seething, who accused Nadal of being a sore loser and failing to give Djokovic the credit he deserves. And the Spanish champion appears to have heard the backlash.
In an interview with 'AS' published on Wednesday, Nadal was much more complimentary of Djokovic and declared him the greatest male tennis player of all time. "I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics," he said. "In that sense, I think he (Djokovic) has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable.
"This is the truth. The rest are tastes, inspiration, sensations that one 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 about that."
Nadal went on to insist that he's not overly worried about his record compared to that of Djokovic. “I have said it when I was the one who won the most slams, I said it when we were tied, I say it now that I am behind,” he added. “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, I am very satisfied with everything I have done.”
Rafa Nadal's sad new revelation about injury
Nadal is attempting to make a comeback to the tour in 2024, which he has previously said will be the last year of his career. He has endured a number of injuries in recent years and hasn't played since the Australian Open in January due to a hip issue.
The 37-year-old is targeting a return at the 2024 Australian Open, but moved to play down expectations that he can still win another grand slam. Nadal went on to reveal just how debilitating his current issues have been.
“(The pain isn’t gone) but now it is controllable,” he told Movistar+. “There are times when the foot does not let me live in peace. It is difficult for me to even go down the stairs and that happens sometimes. If it hurts it is difficult to be happy, my character changes when it hurts more than necessary.
“Yes, I would like to play again and be competitive again. But the dream is not to come back and win Roland Garros or win Australia, so that people don’t get confused, right?
“I am very aware that at the time I am in my life, all that is very far away. And I don’t say it’s impossible because in the end I say things - I have said it a thousand times - all things in sport, they change very quickly.”
Nadal suggested he might call it quits after the French Open, or play on until the Paris Olympics. He declared his interest in playing doubles with fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz at the Paris Games.
I hope to see you for one more year Rafa but not at the expense of you suffering pain or physical damage.
— LizzyBeth (@LizzyBe30523503) September 19, 2023
Novak is on the same level as Nadal and Federer and that's why all three of them beat each other over 20 times and all three of them won 20 grand slams by beating each other and it is sad Federer and Nadal's career in tennis are ending because of injuries
— Jerry Law (@JerryLaw17) September 20, 2023
I guess the point here is that Nadal couldnt keep his body helathy enought (as Nole) so he missed 5/6yrs. But thats just sad. The argument "my player is better than yours cuz he did not play for 6yrs cuz of injuries"... Does not make sense.
— Rej iz Blejdolomaca 🇷🇸⭐ (@IceNash98) September 20, 2023
You not obsessed with Nadal… now is just sad.
— Ramón Portilla 🔴⚪️ (@Ramon_Portilla) September 19, 2023
There is nothing wrong with being the 2nd greatest ever, especially when you dealt with so many injuries and played in the same era & the 2 other greatest players ever.
Anyone besides those 2 other players would do ANYTHING to have the career that Nadal has had pic.twitter.com/NlLkSITtP5
— NMH (@nosmhsnow) September 20, 2023
These are all the grand slams that Rafael Nadal has missed through injury. He already has 22. Just imagine what he cold have won. (tap to see full list). Unbelievable!! #rafaelnadal #legend 🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/oBmRrN4kZP
— William Ryland (@WilliamRyland3) September 18, 2023
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