Nadal v. Djokovic: Who is a better player ?

    Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are two of the greatest Tennis players of the last decade. With greatness comes competition, so the rivalry between the two is one of the biggest rivalries in Tennis history and, in fact, present too

    Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

    Since the beginning of their career, the two have competed against each other 57 times. Out of the 57 matches played between the two greatest players of the decade, Djokovic runs ahead of Nadal with 29 victories and loses 28 to the Spaniard. While Djokovic has also won the most finals against Nadal (15 to 13), Nadal has won the most Grand Slam matches against Novak (10 to 6). 


    One of the reasons why the rivalry between the two is being discussed so passionately by the fans is because these are the only two players who have made it to the finals in four consecutive major tournaments from 2011-to 2012. Their rivalry with Roger Federer is also discussed quite often. Still, experts say that Djokovic and Nadal are the two best defenders of all time, and so the finals they play against each other are more interesting than anything else. Their rivalry began in 2006, and Nadal dominated him till 2010, winning 16 times over 7 of Djokovic's victories. From the year 2011, however, Djokovic started taking over and won 19 matches against the Spaniard, while Nadal only won 7 till the end of 2016. In 2017, the two maintained a balance, winning an almost equal number of matches against each other. While this was a brief account of the games the two have played against each other over the years, let's take a quick peek at the comparison of the number of titles won by the two. 

    Here is a comparison of the ATP titles won by the two:

    Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic

    Grand slam: 20. Grand slam: 18

    Masters: 0. Masters: 6

    Masters 1000: 36. Masters 1000: 36

    ATP 500: 22. ATP 500: 14

    ATP 250: 9. ATP 250: 10

    Though Nadal has more ATP titles in his prize list (88) than Djokovic (83), Djokovic is the only player to have won every single Masters 1000 event in his career. On the other hand, Nadal hasn't won any of his world tour finals, showing a significant flaw in his titles. Since 2010, Nadal and Djokovic had only held the rank one position in international Tennis, except for one year, 2016, when Andy Murray held the top position. While Nadal has held rank 1 in 5 seasons: 2008, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019, Djokovic has six seasons in his list of accomplishments: 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2020.

    It is hard to tell which one of the two is the best. Their stats are comparable, and it is tough to say that one is better than the other. While Nadal has had a winning rate of 83.2% of the total matches he has played, Djokovic has won 83%. Nadal is 1 point ahead of Djokovic with a 55% career point winning ratio against Djokovic, who has 54%. Their serving stats are equal: both have scored a point 67% of the time. Return points in their career have also remained the same (42%).

    Given the stats mentioned above, and their performance on the court both against each other and against other opponents, one can't choose one out of the two to be the greatest. It shall be unfair to choose one when both are still playing, and their careers haven't ended yet.