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Toni Nadal: Novak Not at Same Level as 2011 and 2015

By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Toni Nadal concedes Novak Djokovic is the world's dominant player, but doesn't believe the world No. 1 is as great as he once was.

Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal's uncle and original coach, provided his perspective on the world No. 1 winning his sixth Wimbledon crown to capture his 20th Grand Slam title and match the men's major mark shared by rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

More: Toni Nadal Surprised by Rafa's Decision

Though Djokovic has won the first three legs of the calendar Grand Slam and can become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the Grand Slam by winning the US Open, Toni Nadal questions if that will happen.

In a column he wrote for El Pais, Toni Nadal doesn't believe Djokovic's current level of play equals the lofty level he produced in 2011 and 2015 when he won three of the four Grand Slam championships, but acknowledges the 34-year-old Serbian superstar's performance is still better than rising stars Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev.

"I think Djokovic's current level is not the same as in 2011 or 2015, but it has been shown that the Serb is still one step ahead of the new generation of players," Toni Nadal writes in El Pais. "He has defeated three of those emerging tennis players in the last three Grand Slam finals. Recall that he also beat Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open. But this victory at Wimbledon proves something else."

Rafael Nadal, who has not beaten Djokovic on a hard court since the 2013 US Open final, saw his Roland Garros reign come to an end in a fierce semifinal loss to the top seed last month. 

Toni Nadal writes Djokovic is in the best position to take sole possession of the all-time men's Grand Slam mark, but suggests his nephew is the man with the best shot to stop him in New York.

"The Balkan seems to be, at the moment, the one with the best inertia to proclaim himself the winner in the fight to score the most Grand Slams," Toni Nadal wirtes. "In a month and a half the US Open will be played and there he will have a first opportunity to get ahead on the scoreboard. Although it is also true that Rafael will fight for his, and if anything I have never lost is my unwavering faith in him."

Toni Nadal: Berrettini's Fatal Mistake

The elder Nadal, who coaches Felix Auger-Aliassime, says Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini made the same mistake in London that Stefanos Tsitsipas, who led Djokovic two sets to love in the Roland Garros final, made in Paris: easing up on intensity after taking the lead.

"Berrettini, for his part, made the same mistake that prevented Stefanos Tsitsipas from being crowned in Paris," Toni Nadal writes. "After scoring the first set (in the case of the Greek it was more serious, the advantage was two), he lowered his guard a little instead of doing just the opposite: try to maintain the intensity and maximum concentration to consolidate the advantage.

"As the end of the match approaches, the tension is much greater. A price that is difficult to assume for a less experienced player."

Photo credit: Rafa Nadal Academy