Rafael Nadal clarifies his comments on Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam record

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic with Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are in a Grand Slam race

Rafael Nadal has clarified his comments on Novak Djokovic’s status as the greatest player of all-time, after some suggested he fired a verbal swipe at his great rival in a TV interview.

Nadal appeared to offer grudging congratulations to Djokovic after he collected his 24th Grand Slam title, as he confirmed he has yet to send him a message to salute his latest historic achievement.

In an interview on Movistar+, Nadal was quizzed about his frustration over seeing Djokovic move two clear of him in the race to finish their respective career with the most Grand Slam titles.

“I’m not frustrated for a simple reason,” said Nadal about Djokovic moving ahead of him in the Grand Slam title race.

“I believe that within my possibilities I have done everything in my power to have things go as well as possible for me.”

He was then asked whether he lives with frustration despite a career that saw him win a remarkable 22 Grand Slam titles and he replied: “It is possible. Of course it is possible.”

Nadal then moved the focus of the conversation to Djokovic as he added: “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 last of those comments was perceived to be a swipe at Djokovic, as he appeared to suggest the Serbian was obsessed with finishing his career with the most grand Slams.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal’s ‘verbal swipe’ at Novak Djokovic has been misinterpreted

Yet in an interview with AS in Spain, he clarified those statements as he stressed his belief that Djokovic deserves to be recognised as the greatest male player of all-time statistically.

“I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics,” he said.

“In that sense, I think he has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable. I don’t have an ego big enough to try to disguise a reality.

“This is the truth. The rest are sensations that one or the other (player) 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 in that.”

Nadal went on to insist he was not lying awake at night worrying about his Grand Slam battle with Djokovic, after confirming he is facing a fight to return to the court in 2024 as he battles ongoing injury issues.

“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.”

The debate over who is the best player of them all will remain subjective for those who are passionate fans of Nadal and Roger Federer.

Yet all now accept the record books will be in Djokovic’s favour when this never-ending debate is under the microscope.