Rafael Nadal: ‘Andy Murray was on the same level as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and me’

Shahida Jacobs
Andy Murray Novak Djokovic Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on court
ndy Murray Novak Djokovic Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup

Rafael Nadal has lauded Andy Murray as his fellow tennis great also prepares for retirement, saying the Brit was generally on the same level as the Big Three.

The duo are in the same boat as the 2024 season set to be their last on the ATP Tour with Nadal confirming last year that he plans to retire at the end of this year while Murray revealed earlier this campaign that doesn’t “plan on playing much past this summer”.

Neither player has announced the exact date that they will hang up their rackets, but when they do wave goodbye it means Novak Djokovic will be the last member of the so-called Big Four who is still playing competitively as Roger Federer retired in 2022.

Nadal and Murray’s careers overlapped for large parts and the former paid tribute to his long-time rival.

“We’ve known each other since we were little, because I think he’s a year younger. When we played in teams [for Spain and Great Britain], he was on the team being a year younger,” the 22-time Grand Slam winner said.

“We know each other very well. We grew up together on tour, even though he arrived a little later than me. Andy had an incredible career. He played many finals.”

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Nadal, Murray, Djokovic and Federer dominated tennis for several years with all three reaching No 1 in the ATP Rankings.

Murray, though, didn’t quite manage to keep up with the Big Three as Djokovic went on to win 24 Grand Slams, Nadal 22 and Federer 22 while the Brit won two Wimbledon titles and a US Open crown.

But Nadal feels he was very much part of the conversation at the time.

The 37-year-old added: “He was an incredible player who probably played at a difficult time in tennis history, because he shared the tour in prime time with Novak, Roger and me. He, in my opinion, was on the same level as us generally speaking. As for victories, it is true that he achieved less.

“In terms of tennis, mentally maintaining the winning spirit week after week, he was the only one who was very close to being at the same level as us.”

Like Nadal, Murray struggled with injury over the course of his career and was forced to miss several months of action as he underwent two hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019.

“Yeah, Andy had an amazing career. I think in some way, I mean, I don’t like to say he deserves more or less because at the end, if I say I deserve more if I don’t have injuries, no? No, I don’t, because I had the injuries, no?” Nadal said.