Novak Djokovic clashes with Rafael Nadal’s uncle at US Open

Novak Djokovic on course for 24th grand slam

Novak Djokovic has shut down Toni Nadal’s idea that players of previous eras were better than the current crop of stars, many of whom he has been competing against at the US Open. The Serb has been joined by Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Ben Shelton in the semi-finals, after Rafa Nadal’s uncle made a dig at the current generation of tennis players.

Toni Nadal insisted that in previous years the state of tennis was “more competitive” after the first three Grand Slams of the year went to either Djokovic or Alcaraz – while the pair could meet in Sunday’s final in New York.

Writing for Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, he said: “Years ago, top players were better than now. They were more competitive. Nadal would definitely beat Medvedev, [Andy] Murray beat [Alexander] Zverev, [Stan] Wawrinka beat [Casper] Ruud, [Juan Martin] Del Potro beat [Andrey] Rublev and [David] Ferrer beat [Holger] Rune.”

Not satisfied with calling out the current regime, Toni Nadal also insisted that Djokovic is no longer the player he once was during battles with Roger Federer and his nephew, adding: “And Djokovic is a worse player than five to ten years ago.”

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The Serb disagreed with Nadal, however, as someone who competed at the top in both eras of tennis. He believes that Alcaraz would win titles at any time during the sport, shutting down Uncle Toni’s claim. “I don’t agree with that because each generation has a group of great players that lead,” Djokovic told Marca. “Now there are [Jannik] Sinner, Rune and Alcaraz. They are dominating the majority of tournaments in the last two years.

“The way Carlos plays, how he defends, how he attacks … It’s very complete. Alcaraz would have won the same 10 or 15 years ago. Each generation has its own champions. Tennis has changed and evolved.”

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The 36-year-old also was asked how he would play against the Djokovic of 10 years ago, after discussing the comparisons between eras and the 23-time Major winner seemingly only getting better with age.

He has two Grand Slam victories in 2023 before reaching the final at Wimbledon, and his US Open destiny is yet to be fulfilled ahead of a semi-final with home favourite Shelton.

“What is certain is that it would be a great battle,” Djokovic added. “Of course, I had more energy and mobility in the past, but now I have more experience and I am much stronger mentally. With my team, I try to be better every year because it is the only way to face the young people of today to win Grand Slams.”

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