Rafael Nadal Admits He’d Rather Play Easy Guys Than Rivals Like Novak Djokovic
by Tom Gainey | April 18th, 2015, 9:05 am

As Rafael Nadal readies for another showdown with Novak Djokovic later today in the Monte Caro semifinals, the King of Clay admitted that he prefers playing the easier guys, not the best.

“I prefer to win,” Nadal said after beating David Ferrer in the quarterfinals. “I not stupid. Playing against the best players, the chances to win are less than playing against another players, no? I don’t believe the players who say, No, I want to play against the best in the final. They are lying you. Everybody wants to play against the easier opponent possible to have the title at the end. The most important thing is win the tournament.”

“Sometimes at the end of the day matters against who you do it because for personal satisfaction is a little bit better. Depends the opponent. But what stays there is the title for the rest of the story, not against you, not against who you won that title.

“I prefer to play against an easier opponent than Novak, without any doubt. But I going to play with Novak tomorrow. I don’t going to change that.”

Earlier in the week Rafa commented that some young players simply aren’t good enough to make it on the tour, dispelling the notion that physicality has been playing a big role in the development of the youth.

Nadal leads Novak 23-19 in their head-to-head, and he’s won 14 of 18 on clay, but Novak is World No. 1 and has been in dominant form this year.

Rafa hasn’t beaten a Top 10 player since his French Open win over Djokovic last year.

With the Ferrer win, Rafa just earned his first victory over a Top 10 player since the French Open.

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9 Comments for Rafael Nadal Admits He’d Rather Play Easy Guys Than Rivals Like Novak Djokovic

George o Says:

I thought he just beat a top ten player in David Ferrer..? or is mr gainey saying Ferrer isn’t top 10..?

George o Says:

and pls all this talk about Rafa having not beaten a top 10 player in months is really misleading cos they always make it sound like Rafa played a lot of top 10 players over that period and lost all when the truth is that he only played two top ten players over that period bcos of injuries and poor form..pls enough already as that is history already as he beat Ferrer yesterday

chris ford1 Says:

Is Gainey sort of exaggerating Rafa’s mis-English or is Rafa’s ability to talk in that language devolving??
I think there is a slight difference in attitude.

Nadal openly and honestly hates playing Nole except in the moment it is over and he has won that Nole duel. Otherwise, eez nightmare, no?

With Djokovic, OF COURSE he would prefer to face anyone but Rafa in a French Open match – but at the same time, he defines his own ultimate challenge in tennis as beating Rafa there.
And I believe Djokovic will never feel truly fulfilled as a player, as a man that works like a demon to learn how, then apply himself to it – to overcome each challenge in his life – until he gets Rafa there. I think he honestly believes that how good a player he is, and he wants to be the best – rests on challenges Rafa and Fed pose, making him better and better.

And because I want to see Rafa being a great player for many years to come – I am very encouraged by how positive he is in his attitude after recent defeats that he will get back to best form. Eventually. And how his love of the game is still burning bright.

Patson Says:

Perfectly rational. I mean Novak is playing playing out-of-this-galaxy tennis right now. You want to avoid that person as much as you want until the guy cools down. Novak Djokovic is the standard of excellence these days. You can be on top of your game, and yet get smoked !

Okiegal Says:

Well, if I’m Rafa I definitely want Federer in the final or SF as opposed to Novak. Rafa has never been embarrassed to say it in a presser. Once he said I like a challenge, but I’m not stupid! I say he’s right about the other players preferring the easier player too. If they say different, I believe they are telling a little white lie!! Of course the possibility is always there to get beat by a lower ranked player too…..I’m reminded of Rosol and Soderling and the Kid and so on…..Nothing in tennis is a guarantee…..the most fickle sport I’ve ever watched!!

Patson Says:


Go to sleep ! It’s 2:10 AM in Oklahoma. What are you doing up so late ?

Okiegal Says:

@Patson…..I have insomnia all the time. I hate to take sleeping aids, so I will get to bed sooner or later. Yes it’s late. Thanks for reminding me. I guess I’m extra keyed up over Rafa’s loss….not really, got over that quickly. I’m used to Rafa losing matches lately…..sigh……

Okiegal Says:

@Patson……Zzzzzzz…..She gone…. LOL

Miles Nicholas Says:

George o – the stat isn’t misleading at all – Nadal wasn’t getting deep enough into tournaments to face the top 10 players. He’s been in erratic form since last year’s French Open and isn’t the player he once was. Decline happens to all players eventually!

Top story: Novak Djokovic Has Been Deported, He's On An Emirates Flight To Dubai