RAFAEL NADAL PLAYS DOWN COMPARISONS WITH ROGER FEDERER
Archive – Nadal wins first Grand Slam at 2005 French Open
Rafael Nadal was quick to play down talk of him overtaking Roger Federer's record haul of 16 Grand Slams after winning his first US Open title.
The Spaniard, 24, beat Novak Djokovic 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 in New York to earn his ninth Grand Slam crown and complete his set of winning all four major titles.
Asked about Federer's tally of 16 Slams, he said: “It's very far. For me, it's too far to think about that.
“I think talk about if I am better or worse than Roger is stupid.”
Nadal joins Federer, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Don Budge and Fred Perry in having won all four Grand Slams and also becomes the first man since Laver swept the board in 1969 to win the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same year.
And at five years younger than Federer, the Majorcan has time on his side in the pursuit of more major victories.
Nadal is the best – Djokovic
“The titles say he's much better than me, so that's true at the moment,” stated Nadal. “I think it will be true all my life.
“For me, always Roger was an example, especially because he improved his tennis I think during all his career, and that's a good thing that you can copy, no?
“So I try to copy this and I know Roger and me are different, much different classs. Being better than Roger – I don't think it's the right moment to talk about that because I don't think that.”
Nadal has now won five French Opens, two Wimbledons, one Australian and one US Open, as well as an Olympic gold medal and the Davis Cup.
And he admitted that the one significant title for him still to win is the end-of-year ATP World Tour Finals, played indoors at London's O2 Arena in November. MEN'S CAREER GRAND SLAMS
Fred Perry (GB) 1933-1935
Don Budge (US) 1937-1938
Rod Laver (Aus) 1960-1962
Roy Emerson (Aus) 1961-1964
Andre Agassi (US) 1992-1999
Roger Federer (Swiss) 2003-2009
Rafael Nadal (Spain) 2005-2010
“My goal remains the Tour Finals, it's probably the last big tournament that I didn't win,” added Nadal.
“That's true it's the most difficult title for me to win because we play it indoors on a very quick surface, so it's always going to be very difficult if we don't change that.
“But at the same time it's a challenge for me to keep improving to have the chance to play well there and to have the chance to win. So that's what I'm going to try this year.”
Djokovic, also the US Open runner-up in 2007, said of Nadal: “He's so mentally strong and dedicated to this sport. He has all the capabilities, everything he needs, in order to be the biggest ever.
“He has the game now for each surface and he has won each major. He has proven to the world that he's the best in this moment, so there is no question about it.”
The Serb put on a brave face in the immediate aftermath of his defeat but later conceded: “I cannot hide the disappointment. I'm not going to cry or complain about that. It's just the way it is.
Federer's record better than mine – Nadal
“Of course I'm feeling bad about my loss. I wanted that trophy and I know I gave my maximum to get it but tomorrow I will wake up as a new man. I will continue on working hard and waiting for the next chance to come.”
The 23-year-old said that Nadal was simply too strong in the closing stages as he became the first left-hander to win the US Open since John McEnroe in 1984 and the first Spaniard since Manuel Orantes in 1975.
“I don't think I played a bad match overall,” commented Djokovic. “It was very good performance from my side but whenever it was important, he was the one who was playing just too good.”
Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion, will move up to number two in the new world rankings, ahead of Roger Federer after defeating the Swiss in a dramatic five-set semi-final.
“I've played the best tennis, certainly in the last seven, eight months, maybe the whole year,” he said. JONATHAN OVEREND'S BLOG
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“From Wimbledon up to this point, I feel much more comfortable on the court, more confident and getting this aggressive game back and the game that I need to have in order to stay at the top, a game that has been part of me always.
“It's a good sign. I will continue on working, as I said, and hope that I can keep that performance.”
And Djokovic will get the chance to shake off his disappointment this coming weekend as he returns to Serbia for the Davis Cup semi-final against the Czech Republic.
“Davis Cup is very important,” he added. “It's one of the crucial matches, semi-finals for the first time, and there is a lot of interest for the match in our country.
“I don't think it's going to affect me too much. I'm physically fit.”