Rafael Nadal tougher to play than Novak Djokovic, says top ATP star
Daniil Medvedev says he has found it tougher to beat Rafael Nadal in his career than he has Novak Djokovic.
Medvedev is one of the players on the ATP Tour with a respectable record against Djokovic, with him winning five of their 15 meetings. Those wins have included a win in a major final, with Medvedev besting the Serbian in the 2021 US Open final.
Meanwhile, he has just one win to his name against Rafael Nadal, albeit from just six matches in total.
Nadal missed almost all of 2023 with injury but he will return at the Australian Open next month. He will also be unseeded, meaning he will land in the same quarter of the draw of one of the top four seeds.
That means he could face Medvedev early on, and if he does then he won’t be taking anything for granted – especially given he’s found him even harder to beat than the utterly remarkable Djokovic.
“It’s kind of the same with Novak,” Medvedev told The National. “It’s just that all the seasons that he played he wins a lot of matches and doesn’t lose many. It’s very tough to beat him.
“Actually with Rafa maybe I even had even less success than with Novak in a way. But we had some tight matches where I felt like I could win and maybe he got the edge in the end.
“So, for me, it’s going to be a great challenge if I have to face him. I don’t know at the moment his shape, no one knows, and how he’s going to handle.
“But from what I saw, he seems to be doing good and that’s great for tennis.”
“He told me that it took him a while to come back, but I felt that he was no longer in pain. He will play well this year. At the beginning, it takes time. But he will be competitive, I have no doubt.”
Richard Gasquet on Rafael Nadal
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Rafael Nadal ‘dangerous for anyone’
One of the biggest points of intrigue with the Australian Open next month will be Nadal’s return, with no one really knowing what to expect from the Spaniard.
He has achieved incredible things in his career even when injured or returning from injury, but he has missed a lot of tennis and players always find it tough to get straight back into a rhythm following injury.
No one will be writing him off though, and top coach Patrick Mouratoglou knows he will be the name no one will want to see in their section of the draw.
“Rafa has been out of action for a long time and therefore everyone thinks that physically, given his age and the major injuries in his career, he is not in good shape,“ Mouratoglou said.
“But, let’s be clear, if Rafa is physically well, he is dangerous for anyone.”
“It will be interesting to see Nadal on the court, because many young players have improved while he was out and therefore everyone can’t wait to see him on the court.
“Then without a doubt the Roland Garros will be the most important tournament of his season.
“No one knows how Nadal really feels, only he can know his physical condition. This will be fundamental to see his real level in 2024.”
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