Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been among the world’s leading players for years, sharing many records and standing as Roger Federer’s most formidable rivals. Rafa and Novak stand on 20 Major titles, and they are separated with two ATP crowns, as the Spaniard stands on 88 and the Serb on 86. Also, Djokovic is one Masters 1000 title in front of Nadal (37-36), and they should extend their incredible rivalry in 2022. Battling on the most notable tennis scene for the past 15 years, Novak has won 30 out of 58 encounters against Rafa and 15 of the last 21, dominating over his great opponent after the 2013 US Open. Despite the same number of Major trophies on their tallies, Novak has been more successful than Rafa in terms of the ranking records and the number of different titles in his collection. The Serb has won every Major and Masters 1000 tournament at least twice, and he has played on a much higher level than the Spaniard in indoor conditions.
Speaking about Nadal and Djokovic, Jim Courier pointed out this difference and noted that Novak can play on a high level on every surface, while Rafa usually struggles with a roof above his head. Nadal claimed his only indoor hard title in Madrid 2005, still at 19. The home favorite came from two sets to love down against Ivan Ljubicic and prevailed in five thrilling sets to conquer the crown in his first memorable season. In the past 16 years, Nadal had played in five more indoor hard finals, doing his best to improve the results on the least favorite surface but staying empty-handed.
Novak Djokovic is far superior player on an indoor surface than Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard battled for the title at strong indoor events in Paris, Rotterdam, ATP Finals and Basel, losing them all and staying away from an indoor final since Basel 2015. On the other hand, Djokovic has won 14 ATP indoor titles, conquering the Paris Masters six times and adding five ATP Finals trophies to his tally. In the last couple of weeks, Novak claimed the sixth Parisian crown after beating Daniil Medvedev in the final and lost the ATP Finals semi-final clash against Alexander Zverev in Turin.
“It’s not easy to draw the difference between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but one thing stands out. Throughout his career, Rafa has not been comfortable on a lower-bouncing indoor surface. He knows how to play on it, but Novak is just on another level; he is very tough to beat in any conditions,” Jim Courier said.