Why Rafael Nadal has the edge over Novak Djokovic in Grand Slam race

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer

Respected coach Patrick Mouratoglou believes that Novak Djokovic is at a disadvantage in the all-time Grand Slam race against Rafael Nadal.

Nadal currently leads the race having won his 22nd Grand Slam title in Paris earlier this season.

Djokovic missed out on two opportunities to add to his tally over his vaccination status with the Australian Open debacle still impacting the Serb.

He also had to miss the US Open, but Nadal was unable to make the most of his absence as he was stunned by American Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-finals before Carlos Alcaraz claimed his first slam.

Mouratoglou believes that while Djokovic is at a distinct disadvantage he will be highly motivated to win the race against Nadal.

“There is one of the most interesting things in the history of our game that is taking place at the moment, which is this race,” Mouratoglou said in a video on his Instagram page.

“At this stage of his career, Novak has one goal, which is to win as many Grand Slams as possible because he’s into a race with Rafa.

“He doesn’t have many chances, he has only 2 per year, because at the moment he doesn’t play the Australian Open and the US Open.

“I think it’s difficult for him and I also think it’s one of the reasons why he’s playing these lower-ranked tournaments, because he needs to keep the rhythm and keep the motivation in order to get ready for the Australian Open.”

Nadal hasn’t played a singles match since his US Open loss as he nurses an abdominal injury.

His career looked in serious doubt earlier this year after a flare-up of Muller-Weiss disease left him suffering from extreme pain, but Nadal underwent an experimental treatment which appears to have made the condition manageable for the Spanish star.

Djokovic kept in the Grand Slam race with his 21st career singles Major at Wimbledon but would only return to the ATP Tour at the Tel Aviv event earlier this month.

The former World No 1 triumphed in Tel Aviv and Nur-Sultan but has not entered an event this week while the entry lists for the events in Antwerp, Stockholm and Naples have yet to publish their entry lists.

Nadal has taken time away from the tour to be with his wife and newborn child and recover from the troublesome abdominal injury but has returned to the practice court and should feature in the ATP Tour Finals in Turin and possibly the Paris Masters.

Djokovic is likely to play on significantly longer than Nadal who has started to suggest that he is winding down his legendary career.

Nobody has been World No 1 for more weeks than Djokovic, but the Grand Slam race is what will live longest in the memory and that will doubtless drive him to keep going as long as he is able.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic poses no threat to Australia