Former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo recently stated that compatriot Rafael Nadal gave him the toughest time on the court - more than even Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the recently retired Robredo explained why he found the 23-time Grand Slam champion the toughest to play against.
"Rafa [was the toughest to play against], for the way he plays, with this speed of the ball, the spin of his forehand, for the difference due to him being left-handed and for the way that he runs after every ball as if it was the first," Robredo stated.
Robredo, who partnered with Nadal to win the 2004 ATP Chennai Open doubles title, never managed to triumph against his illustrious compatriot. In fact, he won only one set in seven career meetings with Nadal.
By contrast, Robredo had a 2-7 record against Djokovic and a 1-11 record against Federer.
"I dont say the others are easy.. but for me Rafa had something that makes you suffer more inside the court than the rest," Robredo said.
Robredo further claimed that while everyone expected Nadal to achieve success when he first burst onto the scene, no one - including himself - imagined he would become one of the greatest players in history.
"Everyone that saw Rafa during the first year could understand that he would go on to become a great player. But he went much higher and became one of the best sporting athletes in the world, if not the best… thats something that's not easy to realize but that he achieved it in a great way," Robredo said.
"Right now, it's close between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic" - Tommy Robredo on the GOAT race
Having played against the Big 3 and watched them break numerous records over the years, Tommy Robredo said that both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic can lay claim to the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) title.
"Right now, I would say it's close between Rafa and Novak. It depends if we say Grand Slams is the most important or also consider how important Davis Cup, weeks at No 1, and other factors are. It's very difficult to say at the moment, " Robredo said.
While Nadal made a sweeping start to the year by capturing the Australian Open and Roland-Garros titles, another Spaniard, 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, has established himself as the most promising youngster on the men's tour.
Already ranked World No. 6, Alcaraz has won four titles in 2022, including a maiden ATP 500 title and his first two ATP Masters 1000 titles. That has evoked plenty of comparisons with his illustrious compatriot.
Robredo, like many others, believes that the teenager could dominate men's tennis in the future.
"Carlos is a great player, talented, with a great team, and with a huge expectations. Time will tell, but obviously, if everything goes well, he can be someone who dominates the sport for many years. But there are a lot of things that are not 100% certain such as health, other great players in the same generation, how he will manage and cope with the pressure. But I do think he has what it takes to be one of the best," Robredo said.