Madrid (Spain): The 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has said that his rival Novak Djokovic would have been “frustrated” had he not set the record of winning the most Grand Slam titles.
Last week, Djokovic won his 24th Grand Slam singles title at the U.S. Open, which has further solidified his status as the GOAT. He is the oldest man to have won the title and has tied Margaret Court for the most wins in men’s or women’s tennis.
“I’m not frustrated for a simple reason. I believe that, within my means, I have done everything possible to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible for me. Novak could be frustrated because he lives everything more intensely and that’s why he’s the best,” Nadal told Spanish digital platform Movistar Plus.
“I have been one of the most inactive players on the circuit for many years, I’ve missed four and a half years of Grand Slams. That’s what the sport is all about. Djokovic is also more successful because he has had a level of fitness/physique that has allowed him to play more than me,” he added.
Nadal, who remains at 22 majors, eyes a comeback in 2024 following hip surgery earlier this year but made it clear that he is not harboring hopes of winning the 2024 Australian Open, French Open, or any other Grand Slam tournament.
The 37-year-old Spaniard has been absent from competitive tennis since sustaining a hip muscle injury during his second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January.
He missed this year’s French Open, a tournament he has been a dominant force for 18 years with 14 titles. Additionally, he missed Wimbledon and the recently concluded US Open.
While expressing his desires to return to competitive tennis again, Nadal said it’s not realistic to expect that he will contend for another major title, which would tie him with Serena Williams at 23.
“I would like to play again, to be competitive,. But I’m not expecting to come back and win Roland Garros or Australia, so that people are not disoriented. I am fully aware that at the time when I am in my life, it is a distant idea. I don’t say ‘impossible.’ I’ve said it a thousand times, things change very quickly in sport,” the 37-year-old said.
Nadal further stated that he could end his career at the 2024 Paris Olympics, held at Roland Garros from July 27 to August 4.
“The 2024 Olympics in Paris would be a nice end to my career if I feel good,” he said. “My schedule can change if I feel I can have a chance to win at Roland Garros.”
Due to a hip injury he sustained this year in Australia, the Spaniard has fallen out of the world’s top 100 for the first time in 20 years. Currently, he holds the rank of World No. 237 while he continues to focus on recovering.