Rafael Nadal (left) and Novak Djokovic
Djokovic and Nadal have had illustrious careers and are still going strong despite being well into their 30s. Nadal (21) leads the all-time men’s singles Grand Slam leaderboard, one ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer. However, the its the Serb (37) who leads the Masters 1000 all-time leaderboard, ahead of Nadal (36) and Federer (28).
In an exclusive interaction with Telegraf, Rublev provided his take on the GOAT debate, saying both Nadal and Djokovic “are the best in history.”
“It is very interesting! Those two are the best in history, and now they are fighting for one of them to somehow prevail and be alone on that throne,” Rublev said. “In my opinion, they are both the best ever. It is important to see that they continue to enjoy tennis, and we will soon see what lies ahead.”
Rublev also offered his take on 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer, who has been out of action since Wimbledon last year after undergoing knee surgery.
“Of course he will try to play a few more tournaments, but to be honest, I think it is very difficult to return after such a long period of absence from the field,” Rublev opined.
How have Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic fared this year?
Novak Djokovic (left) and Rafael Nadal have had contrasting starts to the year
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have had contrasting starts to the year. Nadal made a blistering start to his 2022 campaign, romping to titles in Mebourne (ATP 250), at the Australian Open and Acapulco (ATP 500). His triumph at Melbourne Park made the legendary left-hander the first male player to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles.
Nadal made a run to the Indian Wells final, but his perfect 20-0 start to the year was ended by American Taylor Fritz. The Spaniard has been out of action since then due to a fractured rib and is expected to return at the Madrid Masters.
Meanwhile, Djokovic has had a far quieter and rather surreal start to his campaign. He was denied the chance to defend his Australian Open title because of a visa controversy owing to his COVID-19 vaccination status. On his first stop of the year in Dubai, the Serb was beaten by Czech journeyman Jiri Vesely in the quarterfinals.
The 34-year-old stumbled in his tournament opener at Monte Carlo to drop to 2-2 for the year. Djokovic reeled off three unconvincing wins at the Serbia Open in Belgrade to make the title match. However, he was beaten in the final in three sets by Andrey Rublev, including a bagel in the third.
With the loss, Djokovic’s record for the season stands at 5-3. He is next expected to be in action at the Madrid Masters.