Novak Djokovic leaves Rafael Nadal dumbfounded by his success

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images for ITF)
(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images for ITF) /

One might think that after nearly two decades of high-level tennis played by Novak Djokovic that Rafael Nadal wouldn’t still find a way to underestimate arguably the greatest player ever. But Nadal admitted recently that he did just that: He underestimated Novak Djokovic’s potential success in 2023. Of course, Djokovic won three Grand Slams this year and made the finals in the other. I guess it’s fair to say no one might have predicted any player to have Djokovic’s success.

Except that, well…Novak Djokovic seems to have a level of success quite close to the one he has had in 2023 nearly every year. Sure, he is 36 years old, but he plays as if he is 25. In fact, maybe Djokovic doesn’t really have a number that can define him because he wins most tournaments he enters and defeats players whether they are 20 or 40.

Nadal, though, should know better. He and Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were the Big Three for many reasons, but a key part of that was they played each other in a crazy number of tournament finals and they were just better than everybody else for so many years. Nadal knows first-hand what Djokovic is capable of.

Novak Djokovic should never be underestimated

To be fair, though, Nadal admitted underestimating Djokovic in a recent interview with EFE but only to a point. As Nadal put it, “I imagined Djokovic winning a Grand Slam but I didn’t imagine him winning three because I think there is another young generation that is very powerful.”

Nadal added, “In the end, we all know that Djokovic is what he is and that he has achieved something historic, something that had never been achieved before and all that remains is to congratulate him and in the end, he has not surprised me either.”

Also to be fair, the younger generation of tennis players is pretty good, especially Nadal’s fellow Spaniard, Carlos Alcaraz. Alcaraz defeated Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, of course, and this kept Djokovic from a calendar Grand Slam.

Nadal didn’t get to compete against Novak Djokovic this year due to a hip injury and Nadal has been out since January. There are hopes that he can be ready to return by the Australian Open, but that’s not definite. If Nadal does come back then he might have to face Djokovic at a tournament that the Serbian basically owns. While Novak Djokovic has a men’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, 10 of them have come at the Australian Open.

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