The debate over the greatest tennis player in history has seemingly been put to bed by Rafael Nadal.
The former number one and winner of 22 grand slams believes his rival Novak Djokovic can lay claim to that crown.
“I think that with respect to titles, Djokovic is the best in history and there is nothing to discuss about that,” he told Spanish media outlet AS.
Roger Federer, a winner of eight Wimbledon titles and 20 slams, is often talked about as the greatest but with his latest success at Flushing Meadows taking his own grand slam tally to 24, no one beats Djokovic, Nadal says.
“I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics. In that sense, I think he has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable,” he added.
“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.”
Nadal, one of tennis’ ‘big three’ with Djokovic and Federer, has had a glittering career since he turned professional at the age of 15.
Among his 22 grand slams are 14 French Open titles and two at Wimbledon, but the Spaniard has been increasingly troubled by injuries throughout his career and was forced to miss the French Open for the first time in 19 years due to hip surgery in June.
He has only played in one Grand Slam this year – the Australian Open – where he lost in straight sets in the second round.
But Djokovic shows no signs of ending his world domination.
Earlier this year his French Open victory saw him overtake Nadal by becoming the first male tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam titles.
After beating Daniil Medvedev in the 2023 US Open final, his Grand Slam tally now stands at 24.
But Nadal insisted that he bore no ill will to the Serb.
He said: “As always, everyone can see the story as they wish, and, yes, I was always very injured at the end. It’s 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, so I congratulate him for everything he has achieved and it causes me no frustration.”
After Swiss legend Federer announced his retirement from tennis last year, Nadal said he believes this will be his last year competing.
But we could see the Spaniard make a longer term return to tennis if his fitness allows.
He said: “If suddenly things work really well, if I feel physically well, my head tends to work well, so if I feel competitive – well, I enjoy what I do.
“I won’t put a limitation by saying this will be my last year, I can’t say for certain now.”