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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday December 9, 2020

Rafael Nadal expects Roger Federer to get back to top form in 2021 and says the sport will be better off if he does.

The 20-time major champion sat down for a long chat with Santander Private Banking to talk about his career, the perils of living during the coronavirus pandemic and which player he might enjoy playing from tennis’ past.

As it turns out, Nadal would enjoy seeing how he measured up against the great Bjorn Borg. Though Nadal has doubled the Swede’s total of Roland Garros titles and added a 13th this year, he still gets the feeling that the Viking god of tennis would be a tough man to beat.

The conversations started when the interviewer brought up an AI program designed at Stanford that lets players simulate tennis matches across different eras.

“I think maybe Borg, because the feeling I’ve always had was that Borg was always undefeatable, the feeling I had was that he was an undefeatable titan of tennis,” Nadal said. “I think it was a different time, but I would love to play him.”

When it comes to Federer, tennis’ other 20-time Grand Slam champion, Nadal says that we should be prepared to see the Swiss return to his high level of tennis next season.

“I think that if he recovers properly and he feels ready to prepare himself because his injury is gone, I think he’s going to come back at full force,” Nadal said. “I think he doesn’t have anything left to prove and he’s proven that whenever he is doing fine he can play at the highest of levels. I think that physically he has kept in shape and if he is able to play in a painless way I think he is going to come back to compete.”

Nadal hinted, naturally, that he’d like to be the first man to win a 21st major singles title, but added that having Federer back in the mix and competing for the sports grandest trophies would be incredible for tennis in 2021.

“I think it’s great,” Nadal said of Federer’s imminent return. “If you ask me if I’d rather be the one to win the Grand Slam, yes I would but I think that it’s also good for tennis that Federer comes back with a fighting spirit. This makes this sport much larger, looking at it from a global point of view, not from my own personal point of view, I think it’s entertaining and good for the sport.”