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  • Opinion The Antipodes, the opposite

Last August, asked about the new talents on the men's circuit,

Martina Navratilova

asked journalists to imagine a training track, presided over by a dartboard.

The aforementioned members of the Next Gen and

Rafa Nadal

would attend that fictitious session .

"If they competed against each other, I'm sure that Rafa would be the one who would hit the center the most times. The average of these guys is not that good, so they have to play above their level to compete with him," said the 18-

major

champion. .

Appropriate or not, this resounding consideration of Navratilova has the endorsement of results that do not leave

Daniil Medvedev

,

Stefanos Tsitsipas

,

Alexander Zverev in a good place

or

Matteo Berrettini

.

Nadal's dominance against those called to dominate the circuit seems unquestionable: 30 wins in 38 games (79%).

In addition to the four mentioned, this group includes tennis players of the stature of

Denis Shapovalov

,

Jannik Sinner

,

Andrey Rublev

,

Felix Auger-Aliassime

and

Carlos Alcaraz

.

Being more than remarkable,

Novak Djokovic

's balance against all of them is slightly lower: 32 wins in 42 games (76%).

So among the merits that adorn Spanish - 35 years old, one more than

Nole

- his condition as an insurmountable wall for a new lineage must be included.

The most notorious triumphs came at the time of defining the titles, where the man from Manacor has an unblemished background in eight finals.

Medvedev lost the 2019 Canadian Masters 1000 (6-3, 6-0), 2019 US Open (7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4) and 2022 Australian Open (2 -6, 6-7 [5], 6-4, 6-4, 7-5);

Zverev fell at the 2018 Rome Masters 1000 (6-1, 1-6, 6-3);

Tsitsipas yielded in the Conde de Godó 2018 (6-2, 6-1), Canada Masters 1000 2018 (6-2, 7-6 [4]), Conde de Godó 2021 (6-4, 6-7 [6 ], 7-5) and Shapovalov bowed the knee in the 2019 Davis Cup (6-3, 7-6).

84% of a thirtysomething

Despite the relevance of these precedents, Nadal has continued to value the quality of his young opponents.

"They are no longer the NextGen, but the present. We should not make it eternal, because I think that stage has passed for them," said the 21-time

major

champion just a few weeks before landing at Melbourne Park.

As if that were not enough, Rafa's predominance is evident in another singular figure.

Since he reached thirty in June 2016, Nadal's balance against opponents under 23 years old rose to 43 wins in 51 games (84%). During that period, they could only beat

him Borna Coric

, at the 2016 Cincinnati Masters;

Lucas Pouille

, at the 2016 US Open;

Nick Kyrgios

, at the 2017 Cincinnati Masters 1000; Shapovalov, at the 2017 Canadian Masters 1000; Zverev, at the 2019 ATP Finals; Tsitsipas at the Masters 1000 in Madrid 2019; Shapovalov, at the 2019 Paris Bercy Masters 1000; and Tsitsipas at the 2021 Australian Open.

Today, in an interview granted to

L'Equipe

,

Carlos Moyà

once again emphasized Nadal's competitive gene.

"The only thing he wants is to continue improving and evolving, to be a candidate to fight for the Grand Slams for many more years," revealed his coach.

"In the Australian Open he was very close to losing some matches, but he always kept fighting. He is a survivor and always manages to find a way to come back", reiterated the former 'number one' of the ATP.

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