Novak Djokovic admits he will never be friends with Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic jokes about his age at the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic has revealed it would be ‘impossible’ to be friends with Rafael Nadal despite his immense respect for the Spaniard. The duo are the most successful players in tennis history and have competed together at the top of tennis for over 15 years however this has not led to a friendship away from the court.

Djokovic and Nadal are competing to be considered the greatest player in tennis history and have each accumulated 22 Grand Slam titles across their distinguished careers. The duo have faced each other 59 times with the Serb holding a narrow 30-29 lead but Nadal has had the advantage when it matters most, leading 11-7 in major tournaments including 5-4 in major finals.

As a result, they have naturally come across each other frequently over the years but Djokovic has admitted that this has not led to an off-court friendship despite the ‘respect’ and ‘gratitude’ that he has for his rival.

“Nadal is only a year older than me, we are both Geminis, at first we even went to dinner together, twice,” Djokovic told Italian publication Corriere Della Sera. “But even with him, friendship is impossible.

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“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!”

Djokovic also admitted that he had never really been friends with Federer as he suggested that friendship between rivals is always difficult.

“We have never been friends,” he explained. “Between rivals, it is not possible, but we have never been enemies. I’ve always had respect for Federer, he was one of the greatest of all time. He had an extraordinary impact, but I’ve never been close to him.”

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Djokovic’s current focus is on the Italian Open where he will play British No 1 Cameron Norrie in the round of 16 on Tuesday. However, his attention will soon turn to the French Open which gets underway at the end of the month as he looks to add a 23rd major title to his trophy cabinet.

Nadal’s participation in his favourite tournament is in serious doubt as the Spaniard struggles with a hip injury, potentially giving Djokovic a better shot at the title.

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