‘The image Novak Djokovic projects is worse than he really is’: Rafael Nadal | Tennis News - Hindustan Times

‘The image Novak Djokovic projects is worse than he really is’: Rafael Nadal on the ‘best’ among Big Three

Feb 15, 2024 10:38 AM IST

Despite the success, Novak Djokovic still struggles to translate his on-court triumphs into off-court popularity. Rafael Nadal shares his thoughts…

For an entire generation of tennis fans, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic mean everything. Three players so classy, so complete, so evenly-matched, so easy to the eye and yet so fiercely competitive jostling with each other for every match, every set, every game and every point has rarely happened in the open era. And chances are high that it might not happen again in the near future. That's how good Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have been.

Rafel Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Rafel Nadal and Novak Djokovic

The Big Three, as they are popularly known, are the all-time leaders in Grand Slam titles; Djokovic has won a record 24 majors, followed by Nadal with 22 and Federer with 20. With Nadal accomplishing it twice for a double career Grand Slam and Djokovic completing it three times for a triple career Grand Slam, they have each completed a career Grand Slam by winning all four majors at least once.

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But who is the best among the best? With Federer now retired and injuries forcing Nadal on the brink, the only going strong is Djokovic. And Nadal himself believes the Serbian is the best.

"The numbers say yes, for me yes (he is the best in history)," Nadal said in an interview with El Objective de La Sexta when asked "who is the best?"

Djokovic has 24 Grand Slam titles having surpassed Nadal's 22 when he captured last year's French Open.

Despite that success, the controversial world number one from Serbia still struggles to translate his on-court triumphs into off-court popularity.

"The image he projects is worse than he really is; I think he's a good person," added Nadal.

"There are moments of frustration. Novak breaks his racquet, but the next point he is ready to play at 100% again and it is the best I have ever seen."

No Nadal in Qatar Open

Nadal, 37, has been battling injury and missed virtually all of 2023. He was hurt again last month before sitting out the Australian Open. Nadal on Wednesday was forced to shelve his plans to return to action at next week's Qatar Open, admitting he is "not ready to compete".

With his career winding down, Nadal hailed compatriot and heir Carlos Alcaraz who is already a two-time major winner at the age of 20.

"Carlos has an incredible level of tennis, he is a super complete player in every sense," said Nadal.

"I don't see weaknesses in him like the ones I had at his age. He has all the ingredients to have an incredible career."

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