Mega numbers confirm Rafael Nadal is hammering Novak Djokovic in the popularity stakes

Pre-match Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal before a match

Statistics on the court will always define a rivalry, but there is no doubt that Rafael Nadal has a big edge on Novak Djokovic in the popularity stakes.

Djokovic looks destined to go down in tennis history as the most successful player of all-time, with his 24 Grand Slam titles combined with two years more than any other player at the top of the ATP rankings.

Yet despite his remarkable success on the court, Djokovic has always struggled to find a favourable audience of tennis and sports fans around the world.

He is regularly booed and jeered during his matches, which is an unusual phenomenon for a player who has achieved so much in the sport.

Now Nadal has moved through another major milestone that confirms the depth of his popularity, as he has become the first tennis player to break through the 21 million followers mark on Instagram.

That puts him well ahead of his long-time rival Roger Federer, who has attracted 12.2million followers on Instagram.

Nadal is also a long way ahead of Djokovic, who has 14.4 million followers on the platform.

The popularity of 14-time French Open champion Nadal is backed up by his following of 15.5 million on X, formerly Twitter.

That is well ahead of Djokovic’s 9.2million followers on that platform, with Federer boasting 12.6million followers on X.

Nadal also has a healthy fanbase on Facebook, where he has 14 million followers, bringing his total social media reach to over 50 million.

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That means Nadal could command a huge fee for each sponsored social media post, as he is in the A-list of sports stars if you measure their success on social media numbers.

In the opinion of former British No 1 Jo Konta, Djokovic is destined to come up short in the popularity stakes compared to Nadal and Federer.

“I think out of all of them, Novak has had the toughest go when it comes to image, for whatever reasons,” Konta told

“He just got there a bit later so you had really strong fan bases for Rafa and for Roger.

“Also, Rafa and Roger can claim they changed the game, they brought in something new. Novak can’t really claim that. He just got there a bit later, but by God he is one of the main reasons why the game is where is it now.

“I think it sucks for him that he doesn’t get that kind of fan recognition. I think also, you know, people want to jump on the bandwagon to hate on someone.

“People don’t like Djokovic because it’s trendy. I don’t think any one person can say why they don’t like Djokovic.

“No one knows him, just like no one knows Roger or Rafa personally. If you stop any fan and ask them why they don’t like Djokovic, they won’t know really.That’s why I’m a secret Djokovic fan!”

Meanwhile, Djokovic has suggested he accepts his fate as the player the fans love to hate, as he insists the treatment he gets inspires him to succeed.

“The more they cheer against me, the better for me. They wake something in me that they perhaps don’t want to see – a winner,” said Djokovic last year.

“As a player, you want to have the majority of the crowd on your side. My wish is not to play in a hostile atmosphere. It turns out, though, that the crowd supports my opponent in most of the matches in my career.

That’s my destiny and that’s all right – sometimes I find it harder to accept it, sometimes I don’t understand the crowd’s reactions, but it’s their right. Sometimes, though, some people are more daring in what they’re saying from the stands – when it’s like that, they have to expect me to answer and react.

“It’s happened in the past, in the big tournaments around the world. It gives me extra fuel, and inspires me to play even better.”