- Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic says being friends with Nadal is impossible
- The pair have competed together at the top of tennis for more than 15 years
- They are the most successful players in tennis history
Despite harbouring a lot of respect for Rafael Nadal, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic says being friends with Nadal is impossible.
The pair have competed together at the top of tennis for more than 15 years and are the most successful players in tennis history. However, the over decade-long on-court experiences have never resulted in a friendship off the court.
With 22 Grand Slam championships each decorating their illustrious careers, Djokovic and Nadal are the modern-day tennis legends.
They have squared off 59 times, with the Serb having a slim 30-29 lead. However, Nadal has had the upper hand when it counts, going 11-7 in major competitions and going 5-4 in major finals.
The Serbian and the Spaniard have inevitably crossed paths over the years, but despite this rivalry, there is mutual respect. However, an off-court relationship is something the duo hasn’t had.
“Nadal is only a year older than me, we are both Geminis, at first we even went to dinner together, twice. But even with him, friendship is impossible,” he told an Italian publication Corriere Della Sera.
He says that Nadal and Roger Federer shaped his tennis career. For 15 years, the ATP Tour has been about the trio.
Federer retired in 2022 after playing tennis for 24 years and won 20 grand slams and a string of other ATP-sanctioned Master’s events.
Being with Nadal on the court every month bore a lot of respect and Djokovic admits so.
“I have always respected and greatly admired him. Thanks to him and Federer, I grew up and became who I am. This will unite us forever; therefore I feel gratitude towards them. Nadal is a part of my life, in the last fifteen years I’ve seen more of him than my mum!” he added.
As for Federer, Djokovic never made friends with him beyond the numerous matches they played together. He asserted that it is never easy for rivals to be friends.
While he has never been enemies with the retired Swiss legend, he doesn’t enjoy friendship given their years of rivalry on the court.
Just like he always admired Djokovic, he holds great admiration for Federer because he impacted his life positively.
Meanwhile, Nadal withdrew from the French Open citing his physical fitness concern which has delayed his full recovery after picking an injury at the Australian Open.
The Spaniard announced on Thursday during a press conference that he will miss the French Open due to a yet-to-heal injury.
According to Nadal, 2024 will be his final season on the ATP tour. He said he will take an unspecified amount of time off and return for the Davis Cup at the end of the year.
He said he does not feel that his body is in a position to take more strain from Roland Garros which is why he withdrew.
Now 38, he knows injuries will always take time to heal and he doesn’t have the luxury of time anymore. Nadal will call in time in tennis in May 2024 after the French Open and follow in Federer’s footsteps in retiring.