Rafael Nadal makes pointed comment over Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam record

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

Rafael Nadal appears to have lost his battle with Novak Djokovic in the race to finish their respective careers with the most Grand Slam titles and now he has given his verdict on his great rival’s latest major title.

Djokovic claimed his 24th Grand Slam title by winning the US Open in New York earlier this month, moving him two ahead of Nadal in the all-time list.

The Serbian remains at the peak of his powers and looks set to add to his Grand Slam collection over the next couple of years, despite passing his 36th birthday earlier this year.

Yet Nadal finds himself in a very different position at the back end of his career, as he is unsure whether he will play competitive tennis again after undergoing surgery earlier this year.

In a major interview with Movistar+ in Spain, Nadal was asked about Djokovic’s Grand Slam dominance and he appeared to suggest the records mean more to the world No 1 than they do to him.

I am not frustrated for a simple reason – within my possibilities, I have done everything to make things as good as possible,” Nadal explained to Juanma Castano when asked whether he was disappointed to lose the Grand Slam title race with Djokovic.

“Yes, you can live frustrated with 22 Grand Slams, for example, Novak lives it in a more intense way. For him, it would have been a greater frustration not to achieve it. Perhaps that is why he achieved it.”

The comments would appear to suggest Nadal is content with the remarkable achievements in his career, even though there have to be some regrets that he cannot compete with Djokovic for Grand Slam titles due to his ongoing injury problems.

Some may also question Nadal’s argument that Djokovic is more motivated to claim records, as he was clearly relishing the battle with Djokovic until injury stopped him in his tracks last year and especially after this year’s Australian Open.

Nadal went on to suggest he still hopes to make a comeback to tennis in 2024 but expressed some doubts over whether his body would allow him to fulfil that ambition.

“My dream is to play again, to be competitive again, not to win at Roland-Garros or in Australia,” said Nadal.

“At the time I am in my life is very far away (from challenging for major titles). I am not saying it is impossible because these things change very quickly.

“But since Indian Wells last year, it has been a hard year and a half, with no peace of mind at all. The results mask the reality of day-to-day life.

“Without surgery, I was not going to recover by stopping for a long time. I made the decision and apparently, it turned out well.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do in 2024, because because of the way I am, I can’t be clear.

“My way of facing the year changes depending on the objectives. I don’t even have the need to respond to myself. My hope is in two months to know how and where I am,

“Yes, I can play but I am not in a position to win at Roland-Garros because maybe I would like a farewell tour. These are answers that I cannot give now.”

He went on to reveal he is ready for a life away from tennis if his injury problems deny him a chance to make a final comeback to the professional tour.

“I have many projects and things are going to develop naturally,” he added.

“If I stop today I can start working on many things that I have underway, personal projects, the Academy.

“I can see myself as a coach, but it’s not going to be the bulk of my life.”

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