In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, Rafael Nadal acknowledged contemporary Novak Djokovic as the greatest tennis player of all time. Nadal's comments come months after Djokovic broke his Grand Slam titles record at the French Open in June and weeks after Djokovic earned his 24th career major trophy in the US Open.
In making his argument, Nadal led off by saying that it was "indisputable" that Djokovic had better statistics than him before making it clear that he would not let his own career and ego get in the way of acknowledging the career that Djokovic has had.
"I don't drop any rings nor do I have an ego big enough to try to disguise a reality that is not. This is the truth," Nadal said (translated from Spanish). "The rest are tastes, inspiration, sensations that one or the other may transmit to you, that you may like one or the other more. I think that with respect to titles, Djokovic is the best in history and there is nothing to argue about that.
"... I congratulate you for everything you are achieving and that does not cause me any type of frustration. I have said it when I was the one who won the most Slams, I said it when we were tied and I say it now that I am behind. I am not going to be the one who tries, through a personal struggle, to want to be what I am not. What is, is and what is not, is not. I say this very satisfied with everything I have done."
While Djokovic, Nadal, and Roger Federer have long battled amongst each other to be the world's No. 1-ranked player, Djokovic has begun to distinguish himself from his two contemporaries in terms of his career achievements. Beyond simply the Grand Slam titles record, Djokovic has also won 39 Masters 1000 titles and has triumphed in each of tennis' second-tier tournaments at least twice.
Djokovic's surpassing of Nadal has come as Nadal has spent the past several years struggling with injuries. After withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip injury, Nadal stated in May that he intends to retire after the 2024 season.