Novak Djokovic never hid that he used the eternal rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as sources of inspiration to improve his game. During a recent talk with his friend Andy Murray, they picked the best player for each aspect of tennis.
When it came to mental strength the first name Novak said was Rafael Nadal. “When it comes to mental strength there is no one better than Rafa. Over the years, we have seen him bounce back from injury so many times. He probably has had more injuries than anyone on the ATP tour.
he has managed to comeback from every single one of them" - the World number 1 said. “When you walk onto the court with him and you see him jumping, you know you are facing a gladiator. You know you are facing a mental giant.
He is mentally stronger than even Roger Federer" - he added. Djokovic and Nadal faced each other 55 times with Djokovic leading 29–26. Djokovic leads 15–11 in finals. Of these matches, 15 have been in Grand Slams with Nadal leading 9–6.
Nadal leads 6–1 at the French Open and 2–1 at the US Open, while Djokovic leads 2-0 at the Australian Open and 2–1 at Wimbledon. Of their 55 matches, 27 have been on hard courts, 24 have been on clay, and 4 have been on grass.
Nadal leads on clay (17–7), while Djokovic has the edge on hard courts (20–7). They are tied on grass (2–2). The first ever meeting between the two occurred at the 2006 French Open in the quarterfinals, where Nadal prevailed after Djokovic retired with an injury in the third set.
This match initiated the rivalry, with Djokovic later commenting to the media that he understood what he needed to do to beat Nadal and claiming Nadal "was beatable on clay".