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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer "Monopoly" on Tennis has Ended, Spaniard Says

FILE - In this March 20, 2010 file photo, Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia during their match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. This image is one in a portfolio of 12 by AP photographer Mark J. Terrill which won the AP's Thomas V. diLustro  award for best portfolio in the annual contest for AP staffers judged by the Associated Press Sports Editors at their winter meeting.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

FILE - In this March 20, 2010 file photo, Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia during their match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. This image is one in a portfolio of 12 by AP photographer Mark J. Terrill which won the AP's Thomas V. diLustro award for best portfolio in the annual contest for AP staffers judged by the Associated Press Sports Editors at their winter meeting. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)  (AP2010)

Rafael Nadal believes his uncontested reign over tennis – a dominance he shared with chief rival Roger Federer – may have seen its last days.

The No. 1-ranked player in the world told an Australian newspaper that the "monopoly" the two stars had over tennis is a thing of the past.

"In 2005, 2006 and 2007, perhaps you could say there was a bit of a monopoly, but it was down to Federer," he told The Australian. "I was also there, but a little less.

"For sure, I think this monopoly ended some time ago. There are many players ready to challenge now," he continued.

Nadal, who fell one tournament short of winning a non-calendar Grand Slam, or a so-called "Rafa Slam" in January, said the new talent in tennis is off the charts.

"I've never seen so many new talents," he said. "Of course, there is [Milos] Raonic, the Canadian, who has started the year very well, and there is [Grigor] Dimitrov. They are two youngsters who have improved the most.

"I can't say that [Andy] Murray and [Novak] Djokovic are youngsters who have broken through on the tour because they've been No. 3 and No. 4 for three years now," he added. "And, at the end of the day, I'm only a year older than them."

To be sure, Nadal is not implying that his Swiss rival is done.

"Two years ago, they said Federer was finished, and by the end of the year he had finished No. 1, having won two grand slam titles and played all four major finals," Nadal said.

As for Nadal, he said preparing for two non-grand slam tournaments in California and Miami.

"It's a very important part of the season," he said.

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