Rafael Nadal believes the difficulty of winning 20 or more singles grand slams is lost on the tennis world because he, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer reached the mark in the same era.
When the 22-time grand slam champion was asked on the cusp of the Australian Open if the emerging generation could match the incredible feats of the legendary trio, he said there was “no doubt about the potential” possessed by the game’s rising stars.
But Nadal also insisted that following in the footsteps of himself, Djokovic and Federer would be hard.
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“I can’t predict the future, but some of the names that you named — they are super good. But Carlos (Alcaraz) has one grand slam and the others have zero yet,” Nadal told reporters on Saturday.
“So if we start talking about achieving 22 grand slams, or 21, 20, it’s a big deal. That can happen? Yes. Why not? But at the same time, never happened in the past, so will not be easy for it to happen two generations in a row. So, that’s just putting the logical perspective in the room.
“They’re super good, they’re going to have an amazing career, they’re going to win slams, they’re going to win a lot of tournaments. Yes.
“Not two players of their generation are going to achieve 20, 21, 22 grand slams. If someone can reach that number? Maybe. Going to be difficult. They have a lot of things to do in front, but you never know what can happen.
“I mean, probably because have been three players that achieved that much we lose a little bit of perspective that how difficult it is. We are here playing tennis at the age of 36 … and you need to have a very long career. Injuries are there, circumstances in life … don’t talk about the level of tennis because that’s a thing that you can have, but then there’s a lot of different facts in the life that can happen that makes this situation, or this result, difficult.”
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Russia’s Daniil Medvedev conquered the US Open in 2021 and Spain’s Alcaraz won the New York major last year.
But the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud are still pursuing breakthrough grand slam victories.
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“No doubt about the potential they have, but the circumstances in life … to put pressure on their shoulders to achieve these kinds of numbers — I don’t think it’s fair,” Nadal added.
The 36-year-old has had a rough time since clinching last year’s Australian Open and Roland-Garros titles.
He withdrew ahead of his scheduled Wimbledon semi-final due to an abdominal tear, before failing to reach the quarter-final stage of the US Open.
Nadal has also won just one match from his last seven.
He admitted to being vulnerable heading into the Australian Open.
“Yeah, without a doubt,” Nadal said.
“I have been losing more than usual. So, that’s part of the business. So, just accept the situation. I think I am humble enough to accept that situation and just work with what I have today.
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“I need to build again all this momentum, I need to build again this confidence with myself with victories.
“But it’s true that I have been losing more than usual.
“We can talk about things that happened last year and all the situations I faced, but the real thing is I have been losing more than usual … I need to live with it and just fight for the victories.
“Either way, I didn’t play that bad the first two matches of the year. I lost against two great opponents (Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur).
“My personal feeling, without a doubt, is much better now than three weeks ago in general terms.”
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