Rafael Nadal praises Novak Djokovic and says tennis has not 'changed'

Nadal not quite ready to say the newer generation is ready to take over.
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Rafael Nadal knows a few things about tennis, of course. He is a 22-time Grand Slam champion and still a danger on any surface he plays on, especially clay. Nadal, whether he believes so or not, could take almost a year off and return to the French Open and he would still be a favorite at the event. Such as would be the case with any player who has won a specific tournament 14 times.

Nadal also has an appreciation for other top players of his generation. He might get along better with Roger Federer than he does Novak Djokovic, at least publicly, but that does not mean Nadal looks down on the Serb as a player. Greatness recognizes greatness, and Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are elite players.

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner might also turn out to be all-time greats. Alcaraz hits shots that few players ever could make, but he struggles with staying consistently healthy. He is only 20 years old but has had to miss so many tournaments already, one might wonder if he will ever reach his maximum potential because he does not stay healthy.

Rafael Nadal still favors Novak Djokovic over Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner

Sinner took a bit longer to reach the top of men's tennis, but he is currently ranked No. 2 and with a decent chance of overtaking Djokovic at No. 1 this summer. He has not yet had to handle the long-term pressure of being at the top of the ATP, however, so who knows if he can consistently play at his best, tournament in and tournament out.

Speaking on the Tennis Channel recently, Nadal revealed he is not quite ready to anoint Alcaraz and Sinner and other players of their generation to the level of Djokovic. The Spaniard had an excellent reason for his thinking as well. 2023 is proof of his thought process.

When asked about Alcaraz and Sinner being in control of the sport now, and not Djokovic, Nadal said, "I don’t know. No idea. Of course, they are amazing players, but at the same time, if we put in perspective that Novak Djokovic won three of four Grand Slams and played the final of another one, I mean he’s from my generation.

"So of course they’re doing amazing things. But on the other hand, a player from my generation and similar. I mean, of course, little bit better numbers, but a similar level at the level that we played, for a long time, still having a lot of success. That says that tennis has amazing new champions, but at the same time, things haven’t changed that much."

Based only on 2024, Sinner is probably the best player in men's tennis. That does not mean he will finish the year that way, however. Djokovic has proven he can get stronger as the year wears on. Plus, Nadal is still likely the king of Roland Garros and someone - anyone - will have to beat him at the French Open to disprove that in 2024.

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