‘Rafael Nadal commands the most respect compared to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer’

Ewan West
Rafael Nadal Brisbane 2024
Rafael Nadal celebrates in Brisbane

Diego Schwartzman believes Rafael Nadal “is the one who commands the most respect when you enter the court” when compared to his great rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. 

The former world No 8 admitted to feeling like he is entering the court “a little more defeated” before facing Nadal because of the great Spaniard’s relentless mentality.

Schwartzman has lost 11 of the 12 matches he has contested against Nadal, with the first coming in 2013 and the most recent being played at the 2021 French Open. The Argentine holds an 0-7 record against Djokovic and an 0-4 record against Federer.

The 31-year-old, who is currently ranked 124th in the world, earned his lone win against 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal in the quarter-finals of the 2020 Italian Open.

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Speaking to ESPN’s Generation F, Schwartzman expressed the intimidation factor that comes with playing Nadal, while contrasting the Mallorcan’s approach to that of Djokovic and Federer.

“I think Rafa, of the three, is the one who commands the most respect when you enter the court. It’s like you enter the court a little more defeated,” the four-time ATP titlist proclaimed.

“With the others, if you catch Djokovic angry one day or if he grabs a couple of balls and has moments of frustration, and Federer, being so relaxed, sometimes gives you options to get into the match.

“But Nadal, from the moment you start playing with him, from the beginning to the end, it seems like it is the last point of his career. It’s hard. He commands so much respect in you that sometimes you say, ‘How do I do it?’

“And he handles that perfectly, because it makes him take fewer shots than Federer or Djokovic and he keeps winning. It is very difficult to sustain what he does from the first minute.”

Nadal has not played since making his long-awaited comeback in Brisbane in January, where he suffered a hip injury setback in his quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson. Before Brisbane, Nadal had not played since sustaining a hip psoas muscle injury at the 2023 Australian Open.

The 37-year-old subsequently withdrew from the 2024 Australian Open, and has since pulled out of events in Doha and Indian Wells, where he had hoped to return.

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The former world No 1 is training ahead of his expected return to action during the clay-court season and is hoping to feature at the 2024 Monte Carlo Masters, which will run from April 7-14.

Nadal has won a record 11 titles at the tournament, making it his best Masters 1000 event and his third most successful tournament overall after Roland Garros (13) and the Barcelona Open (12).

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal backed in optimistic French Open, Olympics prediction by former world No 7