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Rafael Nadal says he would have rather seen Dominic Thiem win the Australian Open than Novak Djokovic.
Nadal was knocked out in the quarter-finals in Melbourne by Thiem. However, Thiem lost in the final to the Serb.
And asked if he would rather have seen the Austrian triumph in order to have preserved his own status as the world’s top-ranked player, Nadal said: “Obviously, yes. You don’t have to be a hypocrite, right? It would have been better for me personally if Thiem won. But, to be honest, I slept exactly as well for the last two days. In that regard, it doesn’t matter if Dominic had won or if Novak won. It is part of our sport. Novak is particularly good at this tournament. And right now he is today, the best player in the world.
“This is what the numbers say. And the only thing that can be done is to congratulate him on another great success.
“Obviously, in the ‘Next Gen’ there are many good, young players, and in the semi-finals, there has been one, which was (Alexander) Zverev because Thiem can no longer be considered ‘Next Gen’.
“He is already 26 years old. He is not 20, nor 21 and, of course, there are many good players who are at a high level and who will have their chances in the coming months.”