World No 1 Rafael Nadal has been described as a “superhero” by Spanish compatriot and tennis legend David Ferrer after a truly remarkable season.

Nadal enjoyed a stellar 2019 finishing with best record on the ATP Tour. The Spaniard tallied a 58-7 mark, with his winning percentage just short of 90 per cent.

He collected four titles, including his 12th French Open crown and a fourth US Open title, as he closed to within one Grand Slam of Roger Federer’s record haul of 20.

Rafael Nadal (right) was in inspirational form in helping Spain lift the Davis Cup Rafael Nadal (right) was in inspirational form in helping Spain lift the Davis Cup Rafael Nadal (right) was in inspirational form in helping Spain lift the Davis Cup

The 33-year-old ended the year by carrying Spain to Davis Cup glory on home soil in Madrid.

“Rafa is just unbelievable, to finish as the number one player in the world, playing amazing tennis, winning all the matches at the Davis Cup. It’s maybe the greatest-ever season that I’ve seen from him,” said a bewildered Ferrer, who called time on his illustrious career at the Madrid Open in May.

“The thing with Rafa is that he is still improving his game. He is a superhero. But Rafa, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are all very special tennis players.

“People must enjoy Rafa over the next few years because it will be very difficult to see the like of him again. I am really happy to see him, Roger and Novak all still playing at such a high level.”

Ferrer has been mightily impressed by Nadal's season but warns the 'big three' the Next Gen have arrived Ferrer has been mightily impressed by Nadal's season but warns the 'big three' the Next Gen have arrived Ferrer has been mightily impressed by Nadal’s season but warns the ‘big three’ the Next Gen have arrived

As for 2020, Ferrer, 37, who lost the final at Roland Garros to Nadal six years ago, believes we’re in for an “interesting” year with the Next Gen desperate to break the stranglehold atop of the men’s game.

“There are young tennis players who are coming through winning important tournaments like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Alex de Minaur and Jannik Sinner. The gap is closing so it’s going to be good.

“Next year I’m sure that one of the Next Gen will get a chance to win one of the Grand Slams because Tsitsipas recently won the ATP Finals and this tournament is like a Grand Slam, so we will see.”