Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2022

Injury-free Rafael Nadal ‘would have been the best’ ahead of Federer and Djokovic, legendary coach claims

Toni Nadal believes that without persistent injury, Rafael Nadal would have already clinched the ‘Greatest of All Time’ debate leaving Roger Federer & Novak Djokovic firmly in his wake.

The now 21-time Grand Slam champion made history at this year’s Australian Open as he battled from behind against US Open champion and World number two Daniil Medvedev to claim a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.

This put the Spaniard ahead of his fellow competitors Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, with the duo both absent from the event. Djokovic missed out after he was deported just one day prior, whilst Federer has been recovering from a third knee surgery.

However, Nadal has also suffered a plethora of injuries throughout his career, including foot, knee and wrist injuries. Most recently, Nadal was side-lined for five months before the ‘Happy Slam’ after suffering another long-standing foot injury at the Washington Open in August.

Rafael’s former coach and uncle Toni Nadal believes if Rafael had been more fortunate with his injury woes, he would have already put the ‘greatest of all time’ debate to rest. Although, he did recognise that Swiss maestro Federer has made the biggest contribution to the sport.

Speaking on the Manana Sylvestre radio programme, Toni Nadal said “it is very difficult today to say who is the best. Is it the one who manages to play at the highest level, the one who has the Grand Slam record, or the one who has the most titles?

“If my nephew (Rafael Nadal) hadn’t been injured so much then he would have been the best but I think there is very little difference with Federer or Djokovic, even if Federer is probably the one who has done the biggest things.”

“When people ask me ‘how is Rafael capable of doing it,’ I say because he got used to that since he was little, where each training session and each ball was important and that attitude improves you day by day.

“Over the years I heard many people who said that Rafa’s career was going to be short, and I always said: ‘I hope they are wrong!’

“He is doing well and is excited to keep playing.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.