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Friday, June 05, 2020

‘Rafael Nadal mentally stronger than Roger Federer’: Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal, who has faced a barrage of injuries over the course of his career has won 19 Grand Slams, with a record 12 of them coming on the clay courts of Stade Roland-Garros.

By: Sports Desk | Published: April 20, 2020 5:02:09 pm
Novak Djokovic with Rafael Nadal at the 2018 Wimbledon. (Source: Reuters)

Novak Djokovic has kept himself quite busy on social media, be it playing home tennis with his friend or engaging in an Instagram Live session with two-time Wimbledon-winner Andy Murray, where he lauded the mental strength of his on-court rival Rafael Nadal.

Amidst the knockabout banter between the two players, the 17-time Grand Slam-winning Serbian rued about his Olympic performances and joked about Stan Wawrinka’s shorts. Although Djokovic picked Roger Federer’s forehand as the toughest, he complimented the World No. 2 for a different reason.

“When it comes to mental strength there is no one better than Rafa. Over the years, we have seen him bounce back from injury so many times. He probably has had more injuries than anyone on the ATP tour and he has managed to come back from every single one of them,” he said.

Nadal, who has faced a barrage of injuries over the course of his career has won 19 Grand Slams, with 12 of them coming on the clay courts of Stade Roland-Garros. His latest Grand Slam win was at the 2019 US Open where he defeated Daniil Medvedev for the title.

“When you walk onto the court with him and you see him jumping, you know you are facing a gladiator. You know you are facing a mental giant. He is mentally stronger than even Roger Federer.”

Djokovic also threw light on the dominance of the ‘Big Three’ and how their time was coming to an end. “We [him, Nadal, Federer] are also not that young anymore. You have guys like Dominic Thiem and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas and [Alexander] Zverev,” he said.

Dominic Thiem is currently World No. 3 after reaching the finals of 2019 French Open and 2020 Australian Open. (Source: File Photo)

“These guys, I think they’re maturing so quickly. They’re ready to get the grand slam titles and I think they’re really close,” said Djokovic, who most recently won the Australian Open in January beating Thiem in the summit clash.

However, according to Djokovic, there is no substitute for the wealth of experience that the older guys possess, giving the example of Wawrinka, who won his first Grand Slam at the age of 28.

READ | ‘Tennis minus fans doesn’t work’: Halep opposes Nadal, Djokovic’s plan

Recently, Novak Djokovic expressed his concerns about compulsory vaccination once the tennis season resumes post-July. Apart from pledging €1million to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the 32-year-old said that he has had “a long conversation” with Federer and Nadal about how they can “help lower-ranked guys who obviously are struggling the most.”

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