Rafael Nadal Concedes Novak Djokovic Is ‘the Best’ Tennis Player of All Time: ‘There Is Nothing to Discuss’

The Spanish tennis star, who has been recovering from injuries, said in May that he hopes to return to the court in 2024


Rafael Nadal knows who the best player in the history of men’s tennis is — and he's gracious enough to say it's not him.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion told Spanish news outlet AS on Wednesday that the honor goes to his longtime rival and the newly crowned US Open champion Novak Djokovic.

"I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics,” Nadal, 37, said. “In that sense, I think he [Djokovic] has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable.”

With his latest win, the 36-year-old Djokovic nabbed his 24th Grand Slam title, and tied the all-time record for Grand Slams in the Open era.

Related: Rafael Nadal Pulls Out of French Open, Says 2024 'Is My Last Year' Playing Tennis

“This is the truth,” Nadal continued. “The rest are tastes, inspiration, sensations that one or the other may transmit to you, that you may like one or the other more. I think that with respect to titles, Djokovic is the best in history and there is nothing to discuss about that."

Nadal, who has been beset by injuries over the last few years and last played in the Australian Open in January, is taking the high road with praise for the Serbian player.

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"As always, everyone can see the story as they wish, saying that I suffered many injuries," Nadal said. "Bad luck for me or bad luck that I had my body this way. He has had another one, and in some ways that is also part of the sport. I congratulate him for everything he is achieving, and it doesn't cause me any kind of frustration."


In May, Nadal confirmed to his fans via Instagram in a video that his recovery was taking longer than expected, and 2024 would be his last year on the tour.

Related: Novak Djokovic Hugs His 6-Year-Old Daughter Tara in Sweet Moment as He Celebrates U.S. Open Win

"That's my idea, even then I can't say 100% because you never know what can happen — but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and try to say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me in my tennis career during [next] year, and just try to enjoy that, being competitive and enjoying being on the court, something that today is not possible," Nadal said, according to CNN.

For Nadal, the future may be uncertain but he is taking pride in his accomplishments.

"I said it when I was the one with the most Slams, I said it when we were tied, and I say it now that I am behind: I am not going to be the one who tries, through a personal struggle, to want to be what I am not," Nadal told AS. "What is, is, and what is not, is not. I say this: I am very satisfied with everything that I have done."

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