Djokovic defeats Nadal Roland Garros 2021

Novak Djokovic reveals why he’s ‘grateful’ for Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic has commented on his great rival Rafael Nadal’s return, suggesting that the Spaniard would only be returning with the ‘intention’ to win a Grand Slam title.

Djokovic was playing an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and was asked about the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s return after almost a year away from the ATP Tour.

“It is great news for the tennis world that he’s [Nadal] coming back,” said Djokovic. “He hasn’t played an entire year but he is one of the legends of our sport.

“We want to see him play as much as possible. [I] hope both Carlos and me can have great matches against Rafa. It would be great for us and the sport.”

Nadal has been recovering from a serious psoas tear, that he obtained in his second round defeat at the Australian Open to Mackenzie McDonald in January of this year.

The 37-year-old is gearing up to return at the Brisbane International, that begins on Sunday, and Djokovic expects Nadal to prove people wrong.

“I always expect him [Nadal] to play at his best, to be honest,” revealed Djokovic. “Many times they’ve signed him out, they’ve done that with me as well. But we’ve proved them wrong.”

Djokovic continued, “He’s not a kind of a player that will come back to the tour just to play – let’s say – on a medium level, play a few matches. He wants to win titles, he wants to be the best, that’s why he is who he is: a legend of our sport. I’m sure that his training and preparation is done with an intention to win a Grand Slam.”

Alongside Roger Federer and Andy Murray, Djokovic and Nadal have won 69 of the last 81 Grand Slam tournaments.

And the Serb has spoken about how grateful he is for his rivals, “Tennis has grown so much over the last 20 years with the likes of Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray. Everyone who has achieved great things in this sport globally.

“I think in the last two decades it has grown so much and I’m so grateful to be part of this era. Hopefully, I can still keep going with the young guys. They make me very tired but I don’t give up.”

While Nadal is headed to Brisbane for the ATP 250 tournament, Djokovic has arrived in Perth as he makes his debut with Serbia at the United Cup.

Inside the baseline…

Although they may not be the best of friends, the respect between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has always been clear. The amount of time Nadal has taken out to recover this year, it seems as though the Spaniard would only return if he thought he was ready to compete with the best. With Nadal unseeded for the first time since 2005, he could face the likes of Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz in the first round of tournaments, which could make for a very interesting situation.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.