Toni Nadal, the uncle and long-time coach of Rafael Nadal, has revealed that Nadal and Novak Djokovic are now in good terms unlike the past when they were not the best of the friends. Toni has also added that Rafa became a better player by playing against Djokovic than his arch-rival Roger Federer.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the big names in the modern tennis era and their rivalry on the court doesn't need any introduction. Like Roger Federer, Djokovic came as a big competitor for Nadal and post 2009, when the tennis world saw a down phase in Federer’s performance, albeit for a short period, Djokovic took this opportunity to raise his stake in the tennis world. And until today, the two have faced each other 50 times with Djokovic leading the way with 26–24. However, Toni Nadal revealed that doesn't take anything away from their friendship and the duo are good friends off the court.
“They are close in terms of age, have been at the top on the Tour for much time. This rivalry has been beautiful since the beginning, because on
Toni added that Rafa's rivalry with the Serbian further pushed him in his career, unlike the popular belief of playing against Roger Federer made him a better player. "With Federer, it was always something particular, because it was Nadal's first big rivalry.”
As Nadal is out now after losing to Luxembourgian player Gilles Muller, the 56-year-old sees Djokovic as a top contender in the ongoing Wimbledon championship.
“The hunger to lift trophies can come back anytime. I always think Djokovic is one of the favourites, also when he is not at his best. He has always chances to win any event he plays. I think he found his game rhythm again,” Toni said.
“Beating him was one of the ultimate challenges for us. For me it's an absolutely natural thing that they faced each other so many times, more than any rivalry in tennis history,” he added.
Currently, Nadal is on the second position in the ATP rankings and Toni emphasised that his nephew wants to win more titles.
“At the moment he doesn't care about becoming No. 1, he wants to win titles, titles and titles."
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