Rafa Nadal clarifies comments about Novak Djokovic amid awful new injury revelation

The Spanish tennis champion angered Novak Djokovic fans with some recent comments.

Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Rafa Nadal has moved to clarify his recent comments about Novak Djokovic. Image: Getty

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.

Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, pictured here at the Australian Open in 2018.
Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in 2018. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

"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.

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