‘I hardly dared to exchange a word with Rafael Nadal’, says ATP ace

The Big 3 have rewritten the history of men’s tennis, having monopolized the ATP tour for the past decade and a half. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are currently paired at 20 Slams each, after the Serbian closed the gap thanks to his resounding 2021. The world number 1 was close to the ‘Calendar Grand Slam’ this year, but not managed to complete the work at the US Open. Blocked by tension and physically exhausted, the 34-year-old from Belgrade surrendered to Daniil Medvedev in the final act in New York. If he triumphed at Flushing Meadows, Nole would become the second man in the Open Era after Rod Laver to win all four majors in the same year. Roger and Rafa had to deal with a series of physical problems, which limited their appearances in 2021. The Swiss has undergone yet another knee operation, while the Spaniard has played just seven tournaments due to a chronic injury to the foot. In the latest edition of the ‘Player’s Voice’ series on Eurosport, Carlos Alcaraz spoke at length about the Big 3.

Carlos Alcaraz on Rafa Nadal

“I met Rafael Nadal for the first time at an award ceremony on the Rafa Nadal Tour (junior tennis circuit),” Alcaraz said. “At that time I hardly dared to exchange a word with him. However, during our first real conversation I noticed what a great guy he is.” Alcaraz added that after interacting with Rafael Nadal, he has realized that his idol is a great person, and what defines him is his humility and approachability. “If you didn’t know who Rafa is and what he has achieved, you could mistake him for a perfectly normal guy. This is what defines him: so approachable, humble and happy,” he said. The Spaniard has said that his interactions with the trio showed him that they are not only top athletes, but great people as well. “When it comes to comparisons with the Big Three, I want to say the following: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are not only exceptional athletes, some of the best in history, they are also great people,” he said. Nadal has even previously called Novak Djokovic the ‘toughest opponent possible’, ahead of their matchup at the 2020 French Open. After the exceptional 2021 season that Nole had, most tennis fans have accepted that the Serbian would retire with the most Grand Slam titles, a reality which Nadal, too, acknowledged.