Rafael Nadal had some kind words for Novak Djokovic after the latter’s recent Wimbledon triumph with an impressive victory over Nick Kyrgios in Sunday’s final. The Serb endured a shaky start as he surrendered the first set to his Australian opponent but managed to win the next three to get his hands on the coveted Wimbledon trophy once again.
Djokovic was spared a potential meeting with Nadal in this year’s final, with the Spaniard pulling out due to an abdominal injury before his scheduled last-four clash against Kyrgios, which ultimately never happened. Nadal kept it typically classy in his congratulatory message to Djokovic, though, in a reply to a post on the Serbian icon’s Instagram account on Monday.
“Wow! Great moment! Enjoy it and many congrats,” said the Spaniard, who was among the pre-tournament favourites to win the men’s singles event at Wimbledon after clinching the Australian Open and the French Open earlier this year.
Djokovic is now just one Grand Slam title adrift of Nadal in the all-time leaderboards after picking up his 21st major honour at the All England Club on Sunday. He has made no secret of his desire to win more than his Spanish rival by the time they both decide to retire but could be pegged back at this year’s US Open, where he is not expected to compete due to his vaccination status.
Nadal is a year older than Djokovic and has struggled with a chronic foot injury over the last few years, though, which suggests that he may hand the Serb an advantage by calling it quits at an earlier date. Mats Wilander has already warned Nadal that Djokovic has been made stronger by a number of unfortunate recent events in his career, including his disqualification from the US Open in 2020 and his Australian Open saga that dominated the headlines earlier this year.
“Djokovic now has 21 Grand Slams and I would be extremely surprised if he remains there,” said Wilander after Djokovic’s victory over Kyrgios on Sunday.
“Since his disqualification at the 2020 US Open, he has experienced huge fluctuations in fortune in Grand Slams. But all that has made him stronger. He has an exceptional force of character, he turns adversity to his advantage.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic has already been tipped to win as many as 30 career Grand Slam titles by his former coach, Bogdan Obradovic, who believes that he will manage to stay at the top of his game for at least another five years.
“He wants to come to the number 30, which is three-zero,” Obradovic told BBC Radio 5 Live. “That is what Novak wants, so the next five years, he will play.
“The next five years, he will probably have 20 chances to get those numbers. Let’s see.”