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"Djokovic is the best in history," says Rafael Nadal in interview
Novak "has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable," the Spaniard told AS.
Published Sep 20, 2023
Declarative statements about the greatest of all time (GOAT) in men's tennis have been made for years, but the truth is, not many people actually listened to them. Such is the often relentless, loud and coarse forum of social media, and the searing passion that each particular players' fans have engendered.
But what if one of those particular players makes a statement declaring that another player is the greatest of all time? Maybe the chatter will quiet down. Maybe some more folks will listen.
I think that with respect to titles, Djokovic is the best in history and there is nothing to discuss about that. Rafael Nadal
Regardless, Rafael Nadal—a 22-time Grand Slam champion whose career still is not over—made waves on Wednesday after an interview with Spain's AS, effectively saying that Novak Djokovic, the 24-time Grand Slam champion, is indeed the GOAT.
"I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics. In that sense, I think he (Djokovic) has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable," Nadal said in the AS interview, translated and reported by Reuters.
"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."
Not only has Djokovic surpassed Nadal and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the major singles title chase, but he owns the most Masters 1000 titles—39, three more than Nadal and 11 more than Federer—and has won each of the sport's second-tier tournaments at least twice.
"I think that with respect to titles, Djokovic is the best in history and there is nothing to discuss about that," said Nadal.
Earlier this year, we produced a series called GOAT Race, which looked back at the times when this two-decade, title-collecting marathon between Federer, Nadal and Djokovic might have gone a different way:
- Moment 1: 2007 Wimbledon final: Nadal “seizes up” with break points in the fifth
- Moment 2: 2008 Wimbledon final: Federer’s four-hour comeback comes up one break point short
- Moment 3: 2010 US Open semifinal: Djokovic “closes his eyes” and hits two huge, match-saving forehands against Federer
- Moment 4: 2011 Roland Garros semifinal: Federer stops a 41-match win streak, and wags a finger
- Moment 5: 2011 US Open semifinal: Djokovic's all-or-nothing forehand return heard 'round the world
- Moment 6: 2012 Australian Open final: t 1:37 a.m., Djokovic topples Nadal in grandiose, grunt-filled Aussie Open epic
- Moment 7: 2013 Roland Garros semifinal: Djokovic stumbles into net, opening door for Nadal to seize Roland Garros classic
- Moment 8: 2017 Australian Open final: Roger Federer frees his backhand Down Under—and starts a renaissance at 35
- Moment 9: 2018 Wimbledon semifinal: With one forehand, Djokovic ends Roger and Rafa's Indian Summer
- Monent 10: 2019 Wimbledon final: In the War of 13-12, Novak Djokovic closes the decade with one last epic escape