Novak Djokovic showed an immense level of respect for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer during Wednesday’s press conference in Belgrade. When asked about his long-time rival Nadal – who he also considers to be his biggest rival- Djokovic directly said he would like to meet the Spaniard in this year’s French Open final.
Also, Djokovic mentioned Federer as he explained how the Swiss and Nadal ultimately pushed him to work harder so he could compete with them for Grand Slam titles. With Federer retired, Djokovic and Nadal are the only active Big Three members.
Once Djokovic and Nadal are also done with pro tennis, Djokovic said he would like to sit down with Nadal and have a friendly conversation.
Djokovic pays tribute to Nadal, Federer
“Roland Garros, the final. I think he and I would agree today, if someone guaranteed us that we would play in the final, I think we would agree.
He is definitely my biggest rival, not only because of the number of matches we played, it’s the rivalry that counts the most matches in the history of any rivalry. On the other hand, we are also generationally close, we kind of grew up together through the junior tournaments.
He, on the other hand, started making big results earlier and next to Federer he is the player that has had the most influence on me. At the beginning of my career, I lost more from him than I won, as with Federer, of course, and they were my focus and the enigma of how to beat them.
The period from 2008 to 2011 was the period where I was in the Top 3 on world, but I didn’t win the Grand Slams and I didn’t break through that last hurdle, where those two were. I am grateful for those rivalries, especially with Nadal, and while we are active tennis players we don’t have the opportunity and we don’t allow ourselves to deal with the size and importance of our rivalry and from our perspectives and for sports as a whole.
When we finish our careers, I hope we will have a chance to talk a little. We will see if there will be more matches. I’m sure he will. Maybe already on clay. He still plays top tennis when he is healthy and fit and at his peak. He and I, like grandpas, make sure that these youngsters don’t take the Grand Slam titles,” Djokovic said.