Djokovic defeats Nadal Roland Garros 2021

Novak Djokovic ‘projects an image worse than what he really is’ claims Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic has been praised as ‘the best in history’ by his biggest rival Rafael Nadal, who has also described the world No.1 as a ‘good person’.

Djokovic declared in a recent interview that himself and Nadal are not friends, but the 24-time Grand Slam champion hopes to build a relationship with the Spaniard after he has retired.

And it seems as though Nadal is in a similar boat, defending Djokovic from critics about his character in a recent interview with El Objetivo, The image he projects is worse than what he really is. He’s a good person, with his mistakes… but he’s much better than he looks.

“Novak breaks his racket but the next point he’s one hundred per cent, that’s why he’s the most successful player in the history of our sport. The numbers don’t lie, he’s the best in history.”

Nadal went onto speak about the other about the other member of ‘the big three’, Roger Federer, revealing that they all helped improve one another.

“We have shared most of our career. I arrived very young and he [Federer] was in his prime,” explained Nadal. “We have helped each other a lot, and we have taken a lot away from each other. Not only with Roger, but also with Novak. We knew we couldn’t fail. We had a clear path marked out to know how to improve.”

Nadal has recently confirmed that he is ‘not ready’ to return to action at the Qatar Open next week, and plans to comeback at Indian Wells alongside the aforementioned Djokovic.

Inside the baseline…

It appears that in more recent times the respect between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has grown, and while they are far from best friends it is nice to see. It is even more amazing to see a fierce competitor like Nadal describe his biggest rival as ‘the best in history’, however it almost seems as though it is an admission that he knows he will never be able to match Djokovic’s Grand Slam tally at this stage of his career.

READ MORE: ‘I am not ready’ – Rafael Nadal delays return to tennis again

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer

The ‘big three’ have dominated men’s tennis in the 21st century, winning 66 of the last 82 major singles tournaments.

However, the age old debate is always about who is really the greatest of all time, so we at Tennishead wanted to delve into the numbers:

Novak Djokovic 

Career-high: No.1 (412 weeks*)

ATP titles: 98

Grand Slam titles: 24

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 40

Olympic medals: 1 (Singles Bronze – 2008)

ATP Finals titles: 7 (2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2022 & 2023)

Davis Cup titles: 1 (2010)

*Currently the ATP No.1

Rafael Nadal 

Career-high: No.1 (209 weeks)

ATP titles: 92

Grand Slam titles: 22

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 36

Olympic medals: 2 (Singles Gold – 2008, Doubles Gold – 2016)

ATP Finals titles: 0 (Best result: Final – 2010 & 2013)

Davis Cup titles: 5 (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011 & 2019)

Roger Federer

Career-high: No.1 (310 weeks)

ATP titles: 103

Grand Slam titles: 20

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 28

Olympic medals: 2 (Doubles Gold – 2008, Singles Silver – 2012)

ATP Finals titles: 6 (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 & 2011)

Davis Cup titles: 1 (2014)


Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal: 30-29

Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer: 27-23

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal: 16-24

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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.