Rafael Nadal recalls: ‘Novak Djokovic deserves title, although I cheered for Thiem’

At the beginning of the previous season, Rafael Nadal had an 840 points advantage over Novak Djokovic on the ATP throne, with two great rivals dominating the Tour in 2019. Rafa and Novak claimed all four Major titles and four Masters 1000 events that year and were ready to extend their rivalry in 2020. Novak had the advantage over Rafa until the closing stages of 2019, losing ground at the US Open and allowing the Spaniard to secure the fifth year-end no. 1 honor. Eager to bounce back, Djokovic stormed over all the opponents at the ATP Cup at the beginning of 2020 to earn valuable 665 ATP points and reduce the deficit over Nadal, whom he beat in the title clash.

Carried by this boost, the Serb went on to conquer his eighth Australian Open title, leaving Australia with massive 2665 points on his tally and replacing the Spaniard on the ATP throne. It was Djokovic’s 17th Major crown, moving him two behind Nadal and giving him a boost to push even harder in the rest of the season before the pandemic ruined his plans. After a tremendous fight, Rafa lost to Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open quarter-final and opened the door wide open for Novak. The Serb used it with both hands and toppled the Austrian in five sets in the title clash to lift a Major trophy and start his new reign on the ATP throne that still stands.

Rafael Nadal shared thoughts about the 2020 Australian Open final.

Thiem led two sets to one before Djokovic shifted into a higher gear to claim the next two and prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in four hours. Speaking about the final, Nadal admitted he would have preferred if Thiem had lifted the trophy. However, he was good with this outcome as well, saying Novak is the world’s best player at the moment and congratulating him on another Major title.¬†

“I would have preferred if Thiem had won the Australian Open. But, to be honest, I slept just as well for the last two days, even without that. It doesn’t matter who was the winner, Dominik or Novak; it’s part of our sport. Novak played an amazing tournament, being the best player in the world at the moment. All I can do is congratulate him on another huge success,” Rafael Nadal said.