Speaking to the press before his opening match at Miami, Rafael Nadal was asked whether it was preferable to have one player dominating the game, like Novak Djokovic is at the moment, or a group of players battling at the top of the game.
“Depend for who,” said Nadal, himself the dominant player before Djokovic. “Unfortunately, it’s obvious that now is better for Novak.”
The Spaniard wants a balance, where a few top players consistently face off at the big events, as has happened with the Big Four.
“I think the real thing is rivalries are good,” said Nadal. “In my opinion, is not good if win a tournament every week a different player, because if there is 20 players winning tournaments different weeks, the people arrive to the tournament and nobody knows who are the favorite to win.
“It’s difficult because the people needs to support one player. So you need the stars. To create the stars you need players that have been there for a long time and players competing for the most important events very often.”
A variety of playing styles also helps, he said.
“[I]t’s good to have combination of styles, it’s good to have different players that fights for the important things, and one or another can win.”
While Nadal said that had largely been the case since he reached the top of the game, he also suggested that Djokovic has taken too much in charge—to his credit, of course. “[For a] year and a half, two years one is dominating maybe too much,” said Nadal. “But he deserves.”
Discussing style of play, Nadal cautioned against what he sees as a powerful new generation that could make matches less enjoyable unless there are adjustments.
“I’m not talking for my generation, but for the next generation. It’s true that the people, in my opinion, likes the drama, the rallies. I don’t remember amazing matches that was only one serve and one shot. The matches that the people remember most are matches that they are slow matches with unbelievable points, and the applause of the people or the emotions of the people are not only with one serve and one shot.
“You know, the people gets emotional when the points are intense, long.”
Nadal, retiring in his opening match at Miami with heat illness, is No. 5 in the rankings.