Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2021

Novak Djokovic: ‘I respect Rafael Nadal more than any other player, but he’s wrong’

Novak Djokovic says he respects Rafael Nadal ‘more than any other player,’ but he did not agree with the Spaniard’s recent comments about him.

Ahead of the Barcelona Open, Nadal claimed his rival was ‘obsessed’ with breaking records, whilst he is largely already satisfied with all he has achieved.

Djokovic, who is playing Belgrade this week, issued a speedy response, saying he thought Nadal had got his assessment wrong.

“It is all a matter of perception and interpretation of what one says,” Djokovic said when asked if he thought he had different motivations to Rafael Nadal.

“I respect Rafa, probably more than any other player in the world; he is the biggest rival I had in my life.

“Everything he has achieved, his dedication to tennis and the way he goes about practising and tennis in general, these traits of his are worthy of admiration.

“He knows what sources of motivation he has, I cannot go into that.

“I have said a lot of times in the past that the love for the sport is the main motive why I keep playing professional tennis.

“I mean, guys, if I did not really love the competition there would be no other reason for me to compete, there is no pressure of any kind.

“I go on playing because I still feel the fire and the desire to win, and because I have the support of my close ones. I will keep on going as long as it is like that.”

The question remains, though: does Novak Djokovic believe Rafael Nadal was right about him being ‘obsessed’ with breaking records?

“I cannot speak on his (Nadal’s) behalf, I do not know the way he thinks, but, it is his right to voice an opinion: how he sees me in regards to records, etc,” Djokovic said.

“Personally, I do not feel that I am obsessed with anything in life; what I feel is passion and huge desire. I am going towards achieving my goals and I have never had a problem verbalising it.

“Maybe someone cannot say something and then stick to it, but I never found it hard to say: ‘I want to break that record or reach a certain goal’.

“I do not know why that would be a bad thing, not just in terms of records, but anything, politics in tennis for instance.

“Ever since I was a young player, I did not fear voicing my goals: I wanted to be number one and to win Slams.

“Of course, those goals are growing – when you fulfil one, another one appears. It is my path, and it is unique, just like Rafa’s.”

Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.