'Rafael Nadal is playing for nothing', says former ATP ace

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'Rafael Nadal is playing for nothing', says former ATP ace

Novak Djokovic scored his first notable Masters 1000 results in early 2007, reaching the Indian Wells final and claiming the title in Miami. In the following 15 seasons, Novak has been one of the players to beat in the premium series of ATP events, conquering 36 titles from 53 finals and securing many records that will be difficult to break in the future.

Last week, Novak lost the final of the Rome Open to Rafael Nadal after a challenging couple of days at the Foro Italico, leaving Rome with another great achievement on his account. Novak became the second player, after Rafael Nadal, with 70 Masters 1000 semi-finals, leaving Roger Federer with 66 and joining the Spaniard on the exclusive roster.

Novak has played in at least one Masters 1000 semi-final over the past 15 years, with a dominating career between 2014-2016 when he reached the last four in 20 of 27 events. Novak's first Masters 1000 semi-final in 2021 came in Rome after a close win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Due to the rain, Novak and Stefanos had to fight for two days, pushing themselves to the limit before the Serbian won 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in three hours and 16 minutes. It was Novak's fourth consecutive victory over Stefanos, and he had to fight for two days and under different conditions.

The Monte Carlo champion and ATP Race leader had the game in his hands, playing well in the rain on Friday and opening a set and a break lead against Djokovic.

Lisnard comments on Rafael Nadal

Jean-Rene Lisnard recently threw his weight behind Rafael Nadal in the GOAT debate.

In the aftermath of Nadal's Italian Open triumph last week, Lisnard asserted that the Spaniard's claim to the title of GOAT would have been stronger if there had been more claycourt events on the ATP tour. "In Rome, Nadal has again proved that he was really above (everyone else)," Lisnard said.

"For me, he is the strongest, even finally in front of Roger Federer whom I love so much." Jean-Rene Lisnard then delved deeper into the GOAT debate, suggesting that Rafael Nadal has been unlucky with the paucity of claycourt events on the calendar.

"He is playing for nothing," Lisnard continued. "After that, we would not even ask ourselves this question of GOAT if there were a few more tournaments on clay during the year. The circuit is still ultra dominated by the hard.

I do not find that necessarily logical and I dare not imagine Rafa's record if the clay was more present on the international scene."