Uncle Toni says Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer & Rod Laver "will have breathed a sigh of relief" after Novak Djokovic failed to win US Open

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the Laver Cup 2019
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the Laver Cup 2019

Rafael Nadal's uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal, believes his nephew, Roger Federer, and Rod Laver would have breathed a sigh of relief after Novak Djokovic's defeat in the US Open final.

Djokovic was aiming to become the first man since Laver (1969) to achieve the Calendar Slam, but he fell just short, losing to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets on Sunday.

A title at Flushing Meadows would have also taken the World No. 1 to 21 Majors, moving him past Federer and Nadal's tally of 20 and giving the Serb sole ownership of the Grand Slam record. But Djokovic crumbled in arguably the most important match of his career and failed to create history.

As such, Toni Nadal, while writing for El Pais, opined that his nephew, Federer, and Laver would have been pleased to see their records remain intact.

"I think that both Roger and Rafael will have breathed a sigh of relief (and I suppose Rod Laver will too) and that they should now feel a little stronger to continue with the race next year," Toni Nadal wrote.

The 60-year-old believes that even though Djokovic will be affected by his loss, he will find a way to restore his dominance next season. That said, Uncle Toni reckons Federer and Nadal will be in a position to resume their famous rivalry with the Serb next season.

"Djokovic will suffer from such a painful defeat but he will raise his head to face the next season. Federer and Rafael will see their spirits renewed," he added. "And the three will continue to give reasons to their millions of followers, still in suspense, to follow and support them for a while longer."

Turning his attention to the US Open final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, Toni Nadal pointed out that the Serb lost because he was crippled by nerves.

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev with their respective trophies
Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev with their respective trophies
"Even great champions, sometimes, nerves betray them and prevent them from withstanding the pressure that they must take at any given moment," Uncle Toni said. "This is what happened to Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final."

Toni Nadal believes Djokovic was under so much pressure as a win against Medvedev would have all but cemented his status as the GOAT of men's tennis.

However, the Spaniard pointed out that the GOAT debate should not be limited to the Big 3 and that Rod Laver should also be part of the conversation.

Toni Nadal believes Rod Laver should be included in the GOAT debate
Toni Nadal believes Rod Laver should be included in the GOAT debate

Rafael Nadal's uncle highlighted some of Laver's achievements, marveling at how he managed to win the Calendar Slam twice in his career.

"He (Djokovic) knew that he was facing the most crucial game of his life, the meeting that was to determine the debate that has been talked about so much in the tennis field: who is the best player in the history of our sport," wrote the Spaniard. "The Serbian, Federer or Rafael. It is true that the three of them treasure the most Grand Slam tournaments in their showcases, 20 each, but it is also true that both fans and experts have rather short memories and we only consider current players."
"I think it would be a serious mistake not to include Rod Laver among those situated on the historical pinnacle of tennis," he continued. "Today, no one has managed to match him in completing the Grand Slam in the same year. He did it twice, in 1962 and 1969 and, between one and the other, seven years passed in which he could not compete because the professionals could not participate in the Majors."

Daniil Medvedev was willing to suffer against Novak Djokovic: Toni Nadal

Daniil Medvedev after beating Novak Djokovic
Daniil Medvedev after beating Novak Djokovic

Toni Nadal then elaborated on the factors that allowed Daniil Medvedev to dominate Novak Djokovic in the US Open final. The Spaniard highlighted how Medvedev dented the Serb's confidence early by breaking in the opening game of the match.

Uncle Toni stressed that Medvedev's defense and serve were on point throughout the match, preventing Djokovic from making inroads.

"We could argue that the initial break that Medvedev made to Djokovic dented the Serbian player, who quickly saw that the tactic he had considered with long rallies from behind was not going to work for him since the Russian was willing to suffer," Toni Nadal wrote. "Or that the new champion managed to serve very well throughout the game and that he is deserving of the title and a firm candidate for others to come."
Edited by Arvind Sriram
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