Rafael Nadal in a league of his own as Novak Djokovic brushes aside two rivals

Novak Djokovic has put Rafael Nadal above everyone else when it comes to naming his biggest rival. The world No 1 explained why their rivalry was on another level as he brushed off Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev in favour of his fellow 22-time Grand Slam champion.

Djokovic and Nadal haven’t faced off in almost a year, with the Spaniard winning their French Open quarter-final clash. Since Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon with an abdominal injury, the pair have been in the same draw just three times – the Paris Masters, the ATP Finals and the Australian Open.

It has led other stars to emerge as new rivals for the Serb, with Carlos Alcaraz spending the season so far battling Djokovic for the No 1 ranking. But Djokovic himself has now brushed off the suggestion that anyone could overtake Nadal as his biggest competition.

“I can’t take anybody else but Nadal as my biggest rival,” the 35-year-old told the ATP. With Nadal currently injured and sitting outside of the world’s top 10, Djokovic said rankings were irrelevant in their rivalry given their history.

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He added: “As long as Nadal is playing, as long as I’m playing. Nadal is always my biggest rival regardless of the rankings or what’s going on just because of the history of our rivalry and everything.”

Djokovic did name Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev as two players who proved themselves as strong competition to his dominance but couldn’t look past the man he has played a staggering 59 times. “Of course I have tons of respect for Alcaraz,” the world No 1 said.

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“You know, he just came on the tour the last couple of years. And there’s some other players that are out there like Medvedev, I had some great match-ups with him but Nadal and myself, we go back a long time so definitely he comes in front.”

Both Djokovic and Nadal recently missed the Madrid Open due to their respective injuries. While the 36-year-old still hasn’t played a match since January’s Australian Open, the Serb is making his return at the Rome Masters where he is the defending champion.

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