One fact might prove why Novak Djokovic is greater than Rafael Nadal

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup) /

The debate between who is better, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, is likely to never go away. The answer to who is better might also come down to which player you like more? But if one is taking a more observational view then one must take into account many raw statistics.

Plus, the argument over who is better has to be one that includes more than simply, “Djokovic isn’t as good on clay than Nadal!” Well, no. Nadal is very likely the best player ever on clay (though a 23-year-old Bjorn Borg versus a 23-year-old Nadal at the French Open would be must-watch tennis with no guaranteed outcome). But Djokovic is the better grass court player.

There are many numbers that might imply that overall Novak Djokovic is the better player, more consistently excellent over a longer period of time. Rafael Nadal was ranked number number 1 on the ATP for 209 weeks. Djokovic has been ranked number 1 for a total of 391 (and he is currently number 1 right now). Djokovic also has two more Grand Slam titles than Nadal.

Novak Djokovic has a more well-rounded game than Rafael Nadal

Djokovic leads the head-to-head over Nadal 30-29, but in matches not played on clay, Djokovic leads 20-9. And Nadal hasn’t beaten Novak Djokovic on a non-clay court since the 2013 US Open. The two have met 22 times since then with 12 of the matches being on clay.

That kind of leads me to a number that might actually be the deciding factor between who is the better all-around tennis player. Novak Djokovic has 24 Grand Slams, sure, but he has more wins at every major than Nadal has at two other majors. In other words, Djokovic has won at least three titles at every Grand Slam event, but Nadal has only won two titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Throw out the finals winning percentages. Great players endure, play through injuries, battle through heat and other conditions and true greatness – at least who is the best ever – is played out over time. Nadal has a fantastic 22 Grand Slams, but 64 percent of his titles are at one major, the French Open.

Meanwhile, while Novak Djokovic has 10 Australian Open titles, his most of any other tournament, that represents just 42 percent of his overall total. Plus, if you combine Nadal’s US Open, Australian, and Wimbledon titles, that number comes to just one more than Djokovic’s number on Wimbledon victories alone.

Rafael Nadal is a great player, of course. But he is still much more of a one-surface specialist than Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has the more well-rounded game. The number of victories at each Grand Slam for him compared to Nadal bears that out.

Next. Chris Evert stands up for and praises for Novak Djokovic. dark