Djokovic: Nadal is my greatest rival of all time!

fundrazer

Legend
Murray fan here and i have no problem with him saying this. Not sure why Federer fans would be annoyed by this either. It's very clearly Nadal and has always been Nadal. They have produced some great matches over the years and have denied each other some very big titles so i'm not entirely sure anyone would treat this statement as anything other than a truthful assessment.
I don't think most reasonable Federer fans actually care. Djokovic and Nadal are from the same generation of players really, it makes sense that they are each other's greatest rivals. Federer is from the generation before them.
 
If anything, this is a concession speech. :giggle:

Imagine declaring that the thorn in his side has six years on him! o_O

30-something Fed has taken it to Djoker nine times. Probably not something he'd like to highlight. :sneaky:
 
30-something hardly means much when nearly 32 year old Djokovic himself is currently the dominant #1.
Firstly, welcome, "New User." :D

You've been busy. ;)

As for the beatings that prime Djoker absorbed at the hands of old Federer... if the shoe were on the other foot, RF would not be the GOAT for me.
 
Firstly, welcome, "New User." :D

You've been busy. ;)

As for the beatings that prime Djoker absorbed at the hands of old Federer... if the shoe were on the other foot, RF would not be the GOAT for me.
I am not saying Djokovic is the GOAT. However most greats lose matches to an older great occasionaly. Prime Navratilova lost matches on grass and carpet to 36 year old King 6-2, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-1. Laver even the year and 2 years after his Grand Slam lost in the WTC both times to a 36 and 37 year old Rosewall. And Laver at his peak lost a ton of times to an extremely old Gonzales (into his 40s).

I would only care if the younger player was losing the majority of matches which never happened.
 
I am not saying Djokovic is the GOAT. However most greats lose matches to an older great occasionaly. Prime Navratilova lost matches on grass and carpet to 36 year old King 6-2, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-1. Laver even the year and 2 years after his Grand Slam lost in the WTC both times to a 36 and 37 year old Rosewall. And Laver at his peak lost a ton of times to an extremely old Gonzales (into his 40s).

I would only care if the younger player was losing the majority of matches which never happened.
 
I am not saying Djokovic is the GOAT. However most greats lose matches to an older great occasionaly. Prime Navratilova lost matches on grass and carpet to 36 year old King 6-2, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-1. Laver even the year and 2 years after his Grand Slam lost in the WTC both times to a 36 and 37 year old Rosewall. And Laver at his peak lost a ton of times to an extremely old Gonzales (into his 40s).

I would only care if the younger player was losing the majority of matches which never happened.
you cant compare the current era where players hitting regularly 80 mph shots with around 3000rpms on average and doing splits from corner to corner for multiple hours?

maybe the game wasnt that fast and physicaly demanding back then?
 

Mr Feeny

Hall of Fame
30-something hardly means much when nearly 32 year old Djokovic himself is currently the dominant #1.
He doesn't have to deal with a couple of top 5 ATGs who are 5 and 6 years younger than him, respectively. His main rival is a wheelchair bound 33 year old Nadal who is a vestigial shell of his former self. That and.....the next gen. So it's much easier to dominate than it was for Federer.
 

Subway Tennis

Hall of Fame
30-something hardly means much when nearly 32 year old Djokovic himself is currently the dominant #1.
This type of common sense has no place on TT.

But yes, you're right :)

Taken in context it seems Novak infers one’s greatest rival is determined by how many times you’ve played another.
I took it to mean that its the challenge of the matchup over the full course of time and the sheer amount of quality matches they've played.

Novak has had the upper hand for a while now but before then it was such a see-sawing rivalry with each player wrestling control for periods of time before losing it again.

Fascinating matchup.
 
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ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
It's completely delusional to consider anyone as rivals who are separated by 6 years. Fed's generational rivals were Roddick, Safin, Roddick, Gonzo, Blake, Nalby, Hewitt etc. and all are long since retired.
What are 6 years when careers last 20 years now? :p

But honestly, a rivalry has nothing to do with age, but with similar abilities during the same time. From the players you mentioned only Nalbandian could make things interesting against Roger, but still they never met in a Slam final, so not a huge rivalry either. Also Roger more or less had his number after 2003.

Federer was head and shoulders above all players who were exactly or closely around his age, so he had his rivalries with others (mainly with the Big 4). The terms "Rivalry" and "Generation" have nothing to do with each other in general. Of course the age factor can be an argument in discussion why a certain rivalry went this way or another, but that’s all. And of course there are other factors as well, like surfaces etc.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
What are 6 years when careers last 20 years now? :p

But honestly, a rivalry has nothing to do with age, but with similar abilities during the same time. From the players you mentioned only Nalbandian could make things interesting against Roger, but still they never met in a Slam final, so not a huge rivalry either. Also Roger more or less had his number after 2003.

Federer was head and shoulders above all players who were exactly or closely around his age, so he had his rivalries with others (mainly with the Big 4). The terms "Rivalry" and "Generation" have nothing to do with each other in general. Of course the age factor can be an argument in discussion why a certain rivalry went this way or another, but that’s all. And of course there are other factors as well, like surfaces etc.
Rivalry is naturally defined by peak play. The link with age comes because most players peak at roughly similar times when they are the same age.

The trouble is when the players have very long careers, so even if they peak at different times part of their primes coincide and that makes it more difficult to decide which rival is the most important, especially if it is peak vs peak with one rival and consistent prime vs peak with other rival.

There are a couple of factors that determine the rivalries:

1) how the players' in question skill level develop
2) how their physical careers develop
3) are there any external factors that act as equalisers or dividers that reduce or increase the differences


Still even with the extraordinary development we are seeing the general principle of generational rivals still holds pretty much true: Djokovic, Nadal and Murray have had the most even peak vs peak rivalries, aside from Nadal, who had his grass and clay peak very early in his career, and was in general a young prodigy, so I disagree that "rivalry" and "generation" have nothing to do with each other. Djokovic and Murray definitely had their peak and rivalry at the same time, and Nadal and Djokovic/Murray had their HC peak and rivalry at the same time.

Not to speak of which side of the prime they are on while batting each other outside of their peak. Who would say that Federer vs Djokovic have the same career rivalry compared to Nadal vs Djokovic, when past Djokovic's peak Djokovic is battling a player roughly his age, while in Federer he is battling a player who is literally ancient in tennis terms. It is not comparable at all and silly to say that, just because they all are outside of their peak, both pairs have the same rivalry (not talking about styles here).

Nowadays the perception of rivalry is somewhat diminished by several factors that fall under point 3 that I mentioned.

1) homogenisation and the general slowing down of the surfaces have led to the unification of the possibilities how to win a match. That means that with more experience the players from roughly the same quality can slow down the decline in level, thus creating more opportunities for matches and closer outcomes. The bulk of matches creates the false sense of intensity of the rivalry compared to matches in their peaks

2) lack of new generations of ATGs

That works two-fold: firstly, the established top players can concentrate on their games against their old rivals without splitting their efforts (homogenisation again plays a part, as any newcomer has to play roughly the same way, so no big adaptation is needed), and secondly, the lack of new pretenders increases the chances of those players meeting again and again, which increases the said bulk of matches.

If there was a pair of contenders 5-6 years Nadal's/Djokovic's juniors, we will not be talking about 50 + matches for each rivalry right now (putting all other factors aside). Being eliminated only in 10-15 instances for each player (not a stretch of imagination by any means), would have reduced that number to around 35-40 matches. Federer's number of matches with Roddick is 24 which is a reasonable difference, considering that Nadal/Djokovic are much greater than the American. And we are not done, since we should be on the verge of second emerging generation of ATGs after Nadal/Djokovic.

There isn't a single instance in the Open era, where an ATG 10 + years his junior ATG rivals has any significant say in their rivalries (the closest is Lendl vs Agassi 6-2 at ten years difference), but then again, Lendl built up his advantage against Agassi when Agassi was a novice on the tour, and also Lendl was was 3-5 vs Sampras with Lendl winning only one match in the last three years of their rivalry:

Connors vs Sampras/Agassi 0-2/0-2
McEnroe vs Sampras 0-3
McEnroe vs Agassi 2-2 (both of McEnroe's wins in the rookie years of Andre and one of them via a retirement from Agassi when he was leading the score)
Federer is 8-3 vs Agassi

There will always be a variety, but these general principles hold true almost all of the time.

:cool:
 
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Subway Tennis

Hall of Fame
What are 6 years when careers last 20 years now? :p

But honestly, a rivalry has nothing to do with age, but with similar abilities during the same time. From the players you mentioned only Nalbandian could make things interesting against Roger, but still they never met in a Slam final, so not a huge rivalry either. Also Roger more or less had his number after 2003.

Federer was head and shoulders above all players who were exactly or closely around his age, so he had his rivalries with others (mainly with the Big 4). The terms "Rivalry" and "Generation" have nothing to do with each other in general. Of course the age factor can be an argument in discussion why a certain rivalry went this way or another, but that’s all. And of course there are other factors as well, like surfaces etc.
Well said
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
Rivalry is naturally defined by peak play.
Who says this? A great rivalry is a H2H which is close and inludes many matches on the biggest stages (which means the last 2-3 rounds of Grand Slams, Masters finals etc.)

I accept that MOSTLY this overlaps with the peak of both players, but it can also be the case that one extremely superior player only has that kind of rivalries when he is NOT at his peak, because otherwise he is too good.

Federer was too much better than the kinds of Hewitt, Roddick, Safin, Gonzalez etc., so despite them having many matches, I cannot call this a "rivalry" only because they are a similar age. No, Federer had to "search" for his rivalries elsewhere.

Don’t get we wrong though, your post is good and interesting IMO and doesn’t even really contradict what I said (because Federer is an extreme anomaly).

As for the lack of new serious competitors: I think this is merely because of the Big 3 being extremely good, and not the other way around. The most decisive factor that they are not pushed away IMO is that we are now for the first time in an era without revolutionary new racquet technology for about 2 decades. If new players would start with superior material, I don’t think the Big 3 could make the switch in their mid-30s and still stop them.

But topspin ballbashing is still the standard with the current material, so they will stay on top by their ATG skills in that "discipline" until their movement is totally gone. Federer is an anomaly again as he is still able to bring variety into this pattern, but still his "normal" game is the normal game of his era.

Honestly, tennis in the 80s was almost a different sport than in the 70s, and then the same occurs for the 90s and early 00s. That's why the former greats were pushed out so easily. Age couldn't have been the most decisive factor since mostly it happened before they turned 30 or shortly after at the latest.

For example, surely Hewitt with 20 wasn't the better tennis player by overall skills than Sampras with 30, but he had the technology and the style for beating him. He started playing that way while Sampras would've had to make a switch and refused to do so. So as strangely as it sounds, the 20-yer-old guy beat the 30-year-old by experience. Now without new technology, experience works in the normal way again (despite the Big 3 are way more skilled players on top of that).
 
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Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
Who says this? A great rivalry is a H2H which is close and inludes many matches on the biggest stages (which means the last 2-3 rounds of Grand Slams, Masters finals etc.)
It seems that we both agree that a great rivalry is defined by many things (and not only one or two). My remark was that being able to play a peak game is instrumental for defining a rivalry.

You say something very true here: a rivalry can be "close", but not "even", with the first pertaining to the margins, while the second to the results.

I accept that MOSTLY this overlaps with the peak of both players, but it can also be the case that one extremely superior player only has that kind of rivalries when he is NOT at his peak, because otherwise he is too good.
I agree with that, and you describe two perfectly valid scenarios.

I want to just highlight that the vastly superior player still had his hands full, because, unless we are talking about Verdasco type of players, even a lesser player will bring it on consistently in his peak. Roddick's performances against Federer at Wimbledon are legendary, although the younger spectators around here don't remember them. He had him on the ropes several times, and Federer had to play out of his skin to be able to tame Roddick's power on the serve and the FH. That alone is enough to define his rivalry as pretty worthy on its own. Basically Federer was a terrible matchup for Roddick due to his strongest shots/abilities going against Roddick's, only, even bigger, but even then it was a fascinating rivalry (just like Nadal's with Federer is, despite of having the huge match up advantage).

At the time Roddick was winding down (up until 2010) Roddick had a much more worthy rivalry with Federer than for example Federer's with Djokovic, albeit the latter was already having better achievements than Roddick, exactly because he pushed Federer much harder than Djokovic (desite of separate results coming out differently than the matches themselves suggested).


Federer was too much better than the kinds of Hewitt, Roddick, Safin, Gonzalez etc., so despite them having many matches, I cannot call this a "rivalry" only because they are a similar age. No, Federer had to "search" for his rivalries elsewhere.
Yes, but the cumulative effect of these rivalries still remained within the peaks of those players. Just because none of them was able to push hard and consistently enough Federer doesn't mean that he didn't have to deal with the cumulative effects of each of their respective peaks coming up at one time or another in relatively limited (by the peak periods) time frame. Don't forget the frame of the discussion: we are not simply talking rivalries, we are talking how the players applied themselves best during the time they played. Federer applied himself best during his peak, and the players from his generation applied themselves best roughly during the same time. As great (much greater than Roddick obviously) Djokovic is, his impact on post peak Federer is nothing like the impact of the players you mentioned in Federer's peak.

Don’t get we wrong though, your post is good and interesting IMO and doesn’t even really contradict what I said (because Federer is an extreme anomaly).

As for the lack of new serious competitors: I think this is merely because of the Big 3 being extremely good, and not the other way around. The most decisive factor that they are not pushed away IMO is that we are now for the first time in an era without revolutionary new racquet technology for about 2 decades. If new players would start with superior material, I don’t think the Big 3 could make the switch in their mid-30s and still stop them.
I disagree with the bolded simply based on the grounds that the supposed potential ATG's from the next gen didn't even deliver enough quality resistance to be considered unsuccessful only based on meeting the vastly superior ATGs. Let's take Dimitrov, for example. Once called "baby Federer". The guy delivered twice on the biggest stages (once in his AO run that ended with his epic loss vs Nadal, and once at the WTF where he won). He has a total of 6 meetings with the big 3 in Majors, for crying out loud. Outside of that he was largely irrelevant, not only because he lost to the Big 3 (and how), but because basically he didn't show consistent quality. Same for Goffin, who made it to the big 3 in Majors what, 3-4 times in his whole career. Raonic a total of 7 times, 4 of which against Federer, all after 2012, he lost 3 of those and won the one where Federer got injured and withdrew for the rest of the year. Thiem, who has played a total of 6 times the big 3 in Majors. Do you see the pattern? None of these players managed more than a handful of appearances at the Majors, let alone make a dent there. They were not even often enough in such meetings to get over their nervousness of meeting the "legends" in such circumstances. Thiem is the only one having that hope, but so far he hasn't done much.

Honestly, tennis in the 80s was almost a different sport than in the 70s, and then the same occurs for the 90s and early 00s. That's why the former greats were pushed out so easily. Age couldn't have been the most decisive factor since mostly it happened before they turned 30 or shortly after at the latest.
Yes, you are describing the homogenisation as conditions and equipment, which IMO works in favour of creating the false impression of who is whose rival.

For example, surely Hewitt with 20 wasn't the better tennis player by overall skills than Sampras with 30, but he had the technology and the style for beating him. He started playing that way while Sampras would've had to make a switch and refused to do so. So as strangely as it sounds, the 20-yer-old guy beat the 30-year-old by experience. Now without new technology, experience works in the normal way again (despite the Big 3 are way more skilled players on top of that).
I don't buy that completely. Sampras was simply going down the hill when Hewitt came along, so his skill couldn't compensate for Hewitt's intensity and ball-striking abilities. He also played Sampras when the conditions still favoured the youthful athleticism, reflexes and power, unlike now, when everything is so dumbed down that the older guys feel the deficits from lacking those a lot less.

:cool:
 

Pantera

Hall of Fame
Nadal and Djokovic are the greatest players of all time and privately they will know that so its no surprise they have a mutual admiration society.
 

GabeT

Legend
It has all the hallmarks of a great rivalry. The number of times. The back and forth. Meeting in all four slam finals (I believe they are the only ones to do that?). The closeness of the results. The gladiator style of their matches.
 
Taken in context it seems Novak infers one’s greatest rival is determined by how many times you’ve played another.
Well I think that does make sense. What is the greatest womens or mens rivalry ever in tennis. Now that is an easy one, Evert vs Navratilova. And they played 80 times. I am not sure if any other pairing has played 80 times, well maybe some of the men in the pro head to head tour days in the 50s and 60s, but in the Open Era highly doubtful.
 

aman92

Hall of Fame
You can certainly make the argument that 2012 was still part of his prime. But I don't really agree with your logic, because otherwise we could call 2018 part of his prime as well.
Not really.. He never really dipped alarmingly in form through 2010 and 2011 and was still in the top 3 whilst playing a full schedule . 2017-18 was a different case where he too advantage of a relatively weak field with an injured Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka
 

Grampa

Semi-Pro
Not really.. He never really dipped alarmingly in form through 2010 and 2011 and was still in the top 3 whilst playing a full schedule . 2017-18 was a different case where he too advantage of a relatively weak field with an injured Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka
Wawrinka wasn’t injured during the AO and sunshine double. Novak and Andy were the no2 and no1 who met just weeks ago in the Doha final. If there was any injury, it certainly popped up later on during the season.
If anything, they really looked lost during RAFA’ heroic efforts at RG17.
 
I do think the best rivalries go in this order:

1. Djokovic-Nadal
2. Federer-Nadal (#1 and #2 can be debated)
3. Djokovic-Murray (I put this over Djokovic-Federer only since they are much more contemporaries)
4. Federer-Djokovic (#3 vs #4 can be debated too)
5. Federer- Roddick (underrated rivalry due to the lopsided H2H, they played in many big matches, and high quality and very close)
6. Murray-Wawrinka

Those are probably my top 6 unless anyone else has some suggestions.
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
As great (much greater than Roddick obviously) Djokovic is, his impact on post peak Federer is nothing like the impact of the players you mentioned in Federer's peak.
While I again agree with the most points you made, I have a different opinion on the impact certain players had on Federer, especially Roddick. You are right that he played two great Wimbledon finals against Federer (2004 and 2009), but during the 5 years in between he had absolutely no hope to be considered a threat to Federer. He ran to the net helplessly and was passed left and right. I bet Federer didn’t have one sleepless night because of Roddick in his life.

Djokovic on the other hand had a huge impact on him. Without him Federer would have won Slams at will, even many years after his so-called prime (the difference is a bit overrated IMO). And we don’t have to talk about Nadal, he was there almost all the time. Roddick on the other didnt win one match at a Slam against Federer, that is nothing I could call having an impact.

I have witnessed all those years as a Federer fan, and I must say even in 2007 a match against Djokovic had something special for me, while I honestly laughed when I saw Roddick as next opponent, especially after AO 2007.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
While I again agree with the most points you made, I have a different opinion on the impact certain players had on Federer, especially Roddick. You are right that he played two great Wimbledon finals against Federer (2004 and 2009), but during the 5 years in between he had absolutely no hope to be considered a threat to Federer. He ran to the net helplessly and was passed left and right. I bet Federer didn’t have one sleepless night because of Roddick in his life.

Djokovic on the other hand had a huge impact on him. Without him Federer would have won Slams at will, even many years after his so-called prime (the difference is a bit overrated IMO). And we don’t have to talk about Nadal, he was there almost all the time. Roddick on the other didnt win one match at a Slam against Federer, that is nothing I could call having an impact.

I have witnessed all those years as a Federer fan, and I must say even in 2007 a match against Djokovic had something special for me, while I honestly laughed when I saw Roddick as next opponent, especially after AO 2007.
I think that you forget the SF that Federer and Roddick had at Wimbledon the first time they met there. Also, except for their very last match all matches between them were from QFs onwards with 7 finals, including 4 Majors all won by Federer. Federer literally destroyed single-handedly Roddick's prospective career of an ATG.

As for threat, they had 16! TBs in their matches, with Federer winning 14 of them. Their matches featured another 8 7-5 scores, and another 15 6-4 score sets, and, of course, the 16-14 set. So, in 24 matches they had 40 sets where they had a score of 6-4 or closer.

To give you an idea. In the Djokovic - Federer rivalry there were 24 sets with TB, 22 7-5 sets, and 25 6-4 sets, so in 47 matches they had 71 such sets.

Bear in mind, in his peak Federer played on a higher lever and was more clutch, so all credit goes to Roddick for making it that close so many times.

Maybe you underestimated Roddick a little, if you really laughed. While the final H2H hugely favours Federer his matches with Roddick were almost always close affairs.

:cool:
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
I think that you forget the SF that Federer and Roddick had at Wimbledon the first time they met there. Also, except for their very last match all matches between them were from QFs onwards with 7 finals, including 4 Majors all won by Federer. Federer literally destroyed single-handedly Roddick's prospective career of an ATG.

As for threat, they had 16! TBs in their matches, with Federer winning 14 of them. Their matches featured another 8 7-5 scores, and another 15 6-4 score sets, and, of course, the 16-14 set. So, in 24 matches they had 40 sets where they had a score of 6-4 or closer.

To give you an idea. In the Djokovic - Federer rivalry there were 24 sets with TB, 22 7-5 sets, and 25 6-4 sets, so in 47 matches they had 71 such sets.

Bear in mind, in his peak Federer played on a higher lever and was more clutch, so all credit goes to Roddick for making it that close so many times.

Maybe you underestimated Roddick a little, if you really laughed. While the final H2H hugely favours Federer his matches with Roddick were almost always close affairs.

:cool:
Roddick had his serve, and that’s why he could stay in some sets, but once Federer got his break, the set was usually over. I think you won’t call Federer’s matches with Karlovic "close" only because Karlovic could reach tiebreaks. (That’s just the most extreme example, there is no doubt that Roddick is a much better tennis player than Karlovic of course).

Federer beating Roddick was much more a foregone conclusion than Nadal beating Federer on clay. And I think even Roddick himself knew it, at least regarding some of his statements.
 
Federer beating Roddick was much more a foregone conclusion than Nadal beating Federer on clay.
I never felt that way, and the matches seem to contradict that too. Roddick had much more shot of beating Federer at Wimbledon 09 or even Wimbledon 04 than Federer had in any of his many RG matches with Nadal.
 

Grampa

Semi-Pro
Roddick had his serve, and that’s why he could stay in some sets, but once Federer got his break, the set was usually over. I think you won’t call Federer’s matches with Karlovic "close" only because Karlovic could reach tiebreaks. (That’s just the most extreme example, there is no doubt that Roddick is a much better tennis player than Karlovic of course).

Federer beating Roddick was much more a foregone conclusion than Nadal beating Federer on clay. And I think even Roddick himself knew it, at least regarding some of his statements.
21-3 vs 13-2. Quite equal, but not quite.
 

Ann

Hall of Fame
Nadal and Djokovic are the greatest players of all time and privately they will know that so its no surprise they have a mutual admiration society.
:laughing::-D:p
no matter how many times I read nonsense like this it still gives me a belly-laugh
 

Ann

Hall of Fame
I do think the best rivalries go in this order:

1. Djokovic-Nadal
2. Federer-Nadal (#1 and #2 can be debated)
3. Djokovic-Murray (I put this over Djokovic-Federer only since they are much more contemporaries)
4. Federer-Djokovic (#3 vs #4 can be debated too)
5. Federer- Roddick (underrated rivalry due to the lopsided H2H, they played in many big matches, and high quality and very close)
6. Murray-Wawrinka

Those are probably my top 6 unless anyone else has some suggestions.
Best rivalries for this decade. probably.
 
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