Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic has claimed that his long-time rival Rafael Nadal is a deserving candidate to top the ATP world tennis rankings, as per ESPN.

Despite defeating Nadal in a five set semi-final epic, the Spaniard retained his number one ranking, as the Serb vaulted 11 spots to reach tenth.

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Blowing Kevin Anderson away 6-2 6-2 7-6 in the finale of SW19, Djokovic acknowledged how close his tournament came to ending at the hands of Nadal.

The 31-year-old told Serbian public broadcaster PTC:

I was very close to defeat,

He [Nadal] is the best, deservedly the best tennis player in the world and dominated throughout the season on the clay.

I proved to myself in that match against Nadal that I could do it, because in the last fifteen months, including the six-month period when I was away from tournaments, I wasn’t sure whether I could go back to the level that I have been accustomed to and that has characterised me for many years.

Having met on 52 occasions in their career, Djokovic currently edges the rivalry with 27 games to Nadal’s 25.

Djokovic showcased the fitness and ferocity that had previously catapulted him to world number one and secured twelve Grand Slam victories.

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The resurgence of his career in the wake of a debilitating elbow injury meant this Wimbledon championship would stand out in the mind of Djokovic:

Professionally, this is definitely one of my greatest successes for the simple reason that I have been through an elbow injury and many other situations that have made my professional career more difficult for the last two years.