With his US Open victory, Novak Djokovic moved two Grand Slam singles titles ahead of Rafael Nadal and four clear of Roger Federer.
Nadal says he “congratulates” Djokovic “for everything he is achieving” and that he is the “best in history”.
Nadal also revealed his motivation to play doubles at the 2024 Paris Olympics alongside fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.
Rafael Nadal has acknowledged Novak Djokovic “is the best in history” and says his achievements do not cause him “any kind of frustration”.
Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer have battled for GOAT supremacy over the last 15 years.
If Grand Slam titles is the defining mark, then Federer was the early front-runner before Nadal took the lead and then Djokovic took over with his 24th major at the US Open.
Djokovic is now two ahead of Nadal and four clear of Federer, who retired last summer.
“I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics, and in that sense, I think he has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable,” Nadal, who is recovering from injury and is not set to play again this year, told AS.
“I do not have an ego big enough to try to disguise a reality that is not.
This is the truth. 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 discuss in that.
Then, as always, everyone can combine the story as they wish, saying that I have suffered many injuries — bad luck for me or bad luck that I had my body this way.
“He has had another one and in some ways that is also part of the sport. I congratulate him for everything he is achieving and that does not cause me any kind 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, I am very satisfied with everything I have done.”
Nadal has played down his aspirations of winning further Grand Slam titles in 2024, saying it “looks very far away”.
However, when the French Open rolls around, Nadal will likely again be one of the favourites if he is healthy, given his history at the tournament.
Next year’s tennis event at the Paris Olympics will also be played at Roland-Garros, and Nadal would welcome the chance to play doubles with Alcaraz for Spain.
“For the Games, on a personal level, I would like to play them one more time,” he said.
“Everyone knows that I have always been a lover of the Games. I have lived incredible moments of co-existence, of seeing what sport is in its pure essence.
“Regarding the fact of playing doubles with Carlos, I have not had the slightest conversation with him in that regard.
“But I would also like (it) and it would be a good motivation, another incentive for me to be able to close my Olympic cycle playing with Carlos, with everything he is achieving, with the young people and with the great future he has ahead of him.”
On Alcaraz, who has won two Grand Slam titles over the last year and reached world No. 1, Nadal added: “He has been the world No. 1 until recently.
“Although he’s very young right now, practically the only rival I see for him is Djokovic.
“He is one step above the others. My feeling from outside the tour is that when he plays, the games normally depend on him 90 percent of the time.
“It is fantastic news for sport and for tennis to have someone like him, who is doing what he is doing, and on top of that, with so much time ahead of him.” — Eurosport