Rafael Nadal admits: ‘Novak Djokovic has the advantage over Roger Federer and me’

At the end of 2010, Roger Federer stood on 16 Major titles, while Rafael Nadal had nine famous trophies in his cabinet. Novak Djokovic was nowhere near two legends, still relying on that lone Australian Open crown claimed in 2008. The past 11 years (2011-2021) have been the era of the mighty Serb, who claimed 19 Major crowns in this period to match his rivals and make the GOAT race as exciting as ever. Three legends will kick off the 2022 season tied on 20 Major crowns, with Djokovic as the favorite to leave Federer and Nadal behind and embrace his journey towards tennis immortals. The Serb secured three Major titles in 2021, winning 27 out of 28 matches and failing to make an extra step at the US Open and secure the first calendar Grand Slam since 1969.

With his current form, physical shape and ability to play on a high level at all four Majors at 34, Novak will try to end the GOAT race in 2022 and leave Nadal and Federer behind for good. Rafa and Roger have been dealing with injuries in 2021, embracing a reduced schedule and losing ground to Novak. The Spaniard will play his first match after four and a half months in Abu Dhabi on Friday, hoping to compete injury-free after having problems with his left foot.

Rafael Nadal places Novak Djokovic at the top of the GOAT race.

Nadal is aware that the GOAT race depends on Djokovic at the moment, praising the Serb and giving him the edge over Federer and himself. The Spaniard will try to increase his Major tally in 2022, and he wants to talk about the GOAT battle in the second part of the season. Unlike in 2021, Rafa hopes to be ready for all four Majors in the upcoming season, setting eyes on at least one title and wishing to regain the Roland Garros crown he lost to Djokovic this June. 

“Of course, Roger, Novak and I are equal on Major titles ahead of the new season. However, Novak has a high chance to finish above Roger and me. He is healthy and competing, and he is doing well. Let’s see what will happen in the next couple of months. If I’m back at my best again, we can be talking about this topic again later in the season,” Rafael Nadal said.

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