Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal - Laver Cup 2022

Novak Djokovic admits he ‘didn’t get along so well’ with Nadal and Federer

Novak Djokovic has echoed previous sentiments about his relationship with both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, admitting that he has the ‘greatest respect’ for his rivals, but they are ‘not friends’.

Djokovic has had another successful year, winning three major titles to leapfrog Nadal at the top of the record books, and the Serb has spoken about his love for making history.

“I love winning. There is no doubt about it. I’m inspired and motivated by records,” said Djokovic. “I mean, for me, that’s completely normal.

“Like, being honest about it and being your authentic self, and expressing what you feel. I’m just trying to be true to myself and to others and say what my goals and objectives are. So it’s as simple as that.”

It is the first year that Djokovic has not played against either Nadal or Federer since 2005, when he would have been only 18-years-old, and the world No.1 has reflected on the relationship that he has with his greatest rivals.

“Greatest respect is always there, at least from my side,” Djokovic told Jon Wertheim on 60 minutes, where he was then asked about if he would like a future friendship with Nadal and Federer.

“I would like to. I would really like to,” claimed the 24-time Grand Slam champion. “Personally, I would like to. I mean, I know that obviously (laughs) we didn’t get along so well throughout our careers in, like, off court.”

The 36-year-old continued, “And we are not friends because, you know, we’re rivals and it’s difficult as competitors to be very close and kind of share and give insights to you know, to your life or to how you feel because, you know, it could be used against you.

“But we have shared the stage for so many years. And I think the greatest respect is always there, at least from my side, towards them. So yeah, I hope that one day, when the curtains are slightly more closed, that we are, yeah, able to sit down and, and reflect. It would be, it would be amazing.”

Although Djokovic and Nadal have not played one another this year, due to the Spaniard’s injury woes, their rivalry may be reinstated in 2024 when the latter returns at the Australian Open.

Inside the baseline…

It is totally understandable that a rivalry so strong is not always going to produce the best of friends, especially when both Djokovic and Nadal are still active players. However, it is clear that all of ‘the big three’ have the utmost respect for each other after so many battles over the years. It will be very interesting to see if Djokovic and Nadal have more matches next year, especially as Nadal is going to be unseeded for the first time since 2005 and could play the world No.1 in the first round of the Australian Open.

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Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Djokovic has played Nadal and Federer a combined 109 times, with a winning record in both head-to-head’s:


Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal: 30-29

Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer: 27-23

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.