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Roger Federer is the GOAT, but Novak Djokovic toughest to play against: Toni Nadal

  • Rafael Nadal's former coach Toni Nadal gave some interesting views about Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
  • Federer and Djokovic have won a plethora of big titles at the expense of the Spaniard, and Toni respects them both.
Modified 18 May 2020, 23:54 IST

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

During an interview with Euro Sports' Players' Cut, Rafael Nadal's former coach Toni Nadal aired some very interesting views about Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Federer and Djokovic are two of the greatest players to have played the sport and unsurprisingly have been Nadal's two biggest rivals. The Spaniard's 19 Grand Slam titles are sandwiched between Federer's 20 and Djokovic's 17 on the all-time Major titles leaderboard.

Toni Nadal said that had he not been the coach or uncle of Rafael Nadal, he would have wanted Roger Federer to win all his matches. Toni lauded the elegance and brilliance of Federer and said that the Swiss legend is the best player of all time at the moment, with his own nephew not too far behind:

"For me, he’s a wonderful player," Toni said. "I like to watch Roger Federer a lot. If I wasn’t the uncle nor the coach of Rafael, I would want Federer to win all the matches. But in the end, I like how he plays, because he’s very elegant but he’s very effective too. I know Federer is the best ever with I don’t know who; maybe Rod Laver or maybe Rafael, he’s not too far. But at the moment Federer is the best."

Toni Nadal was equally effusive about Novak Djokovic, the current World No. 1. He remarked that unlike against most opponents - including Roger Federer - there is no specific game-plan that works against the Serb. And that makes him the toughest player to play against.

Rafael Nadal's former coach admitted many times that his nephew has stepped on to a court against Djokovic without knowing which game-plan would work.

Toni Nadal had no qualms in admitting that given a choice, he would prefer Nadal to lock horns against Federer rather than Djokovic. The Spaniard's team are aware of the 20-time Grand Slam champion's style of play and know of ways to counter it, but they are clueless against Djokovic.

"For us, it was always more difficult to play against Djokovic," Toni said. "Because it’s not about who of them is better. For us, when we play against Federer, we have a way to beat him. In my mind, before going on court, I know what we have to do. When we play against Djokovic, many times we didn’t know exactly what we had to do. This is more difficult, for me. I prefer to play against Federer.”

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic's record against Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have a combined 45-50 record against Rafael Nadal. However, the duo are a dead even 25-25 against the Spaniard in tournament finals, which is why it makes total sense that Toni is wary of both of them.

Djokovic lost his first five finals against Nadal before winning 15 of the pair's 21 subsequent meetings in title matches.

Some of Djokovic and Federer's biggest titles have come at the expense of the Spaniard. Djokovic has beaten Nadal in 4 Grand Slam and 7 Masters 1000 finals, while Federer has bested the left-hander in 3 Major finals and 5 Masters 1000 title matches.

The duo have also combined to deny Nadal on both occasions the Spaniard made the final of the season-ending ATP Finals.

Novak Djokovic dealt Nadal his only straight-sets defeat in a Grand Slam final when the Serb blew the Spaniard's game to smithereens in the 2019 Australian Open title match.

Two years earlier at the same tournament, Roger Federer recovered from a break deficit in the decider to down Rafael Nadal in a pulsating five-set final at Melbourne Park. That ended a 4.5-year Grand Slam drought for the Swiss.

Published 18 May 2020, 23:26 IST
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