“Best Is Federer or Djokovic”: Uncle Toni Cites Injury Reason for Rafael Nadal Missing Grand Slams

Published 10/07/2021, 1:09 PM EDT
Rafael Nadal of Spain (L) and Toni Nadal (R) speak during a training session prior to the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 10, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


Most tennis fans would agree that Rafael Nadal has had treacherous luck with injuries in his career. The Spaniard has had to withdraw from numerous Grand Slams.

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While rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have been more consistent than Nadal in terms of slam appearances, the Spaniard has a better record in major finals than the other two.

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Rafael Nadal made fewer slam appearances than Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer

If we take a look at the total slam appearances of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, we can see that the Spaniard might have won more majors had he been healthier.

The Swiss Maestro, Federer has made a total of 81 slam appearances in his two-decade long career and reached 31 finals (2o title and 11 losses). On the other hand, Djokovic, who made his main draw slam debut in the year 2005, has 66 appearances in majors. He has an identical record as Federer in finals with 20 wins and 11 losses in 31 appearances.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerlan wait to go on stage during the ATP Heritage Celebration at The Waldorf=Astoria on in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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Nadal, who made his main draw slam debut in 2003, had only managed to play 62 slam events in his 18-year long career. Even though the Spaniard was largely restricted to clay-court greatness, his records on grass and hard courts were on par with both Djokovic and Federer. Appearing in 28 finals, Nadal emerged victorious in 20 and runners-up in 8 of them.

Reiterating the same point, Toni Nadal, who witnessed his nephew’s achievements from close quarters right from the start of his career, said that he initially expected Rafa to win a lot more majors.

Toni Nadal feels his nephew could have won more majors if not for injuries

Talking in a podcast published by Spanish sports website Marca, Toni said, “When I saw that Rafael [at 23 or 24 years old] had already [won every] Grand Slam, I started to think that he could win a lot and that he could aspire to be one of the best”. 

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – APRIL 13: Rafael Nadal of Spain in a practice session as uncle and coach Toni Nadal watches on during day two of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tennis at the Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 13, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Late, uncle Toni pointed out that according to the numbers, the best could either be Federer or Djokovic.

If you look at the numbers, the best is Federer or Djokovic. But Rafael has missed many Grand Slam tournaments with injuries and faced others while injured,” Toni concluded

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Even though it’s early to comment on the GOAT debate since all three of them are still active on the ATP tour, it would be incredibly difficult to pick only one player out of Big-3 and call him the greatest as each of them has set impossible standards in their own way.

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Sagar Ashtakoula

466 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Sagar has completed his graduation in Electronics and Communication Engineering.

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