Novak Djokovic confirms Rafael Nadal ‘not really my friend’ and plots talks

Novak Djokovic says he will 'keep going' after US Open win

Novak Djokovic has revealed that he does not view Rafael Nadal as a friend despite having the greatest respect for his long-time rival, who is set to retire at the end of next year. Djokovic is currently in France as he prepares to begin his Paris Masters campaign on Wednesday, while Nadal is still inactive after suffering an injury at the Australian Open back in January.

Djokovic and Nadal are two of the greatest players in tennis history and have previously faced each other on 59 occasions, leading to a high level of mutual respect between them. Although the Serb does not count Nadal among his friends, he has expressed a willingness to have an amicable bond with his Spanish rival in their retired lives.

Speaking to French outlet C a vous ahead of the Paris Masters, Djokovic said: “Rafael Nadal is a very special player for me. He’s not really my friend but we have respect for each other. I hope that after our career we can have a drink on the beach, talk about life.”

The pair have been battling it out for Grand Slam titles over the last two decades, with Djokovic breaking Nadal’s all-time record at the French Open in June. His knack of avoiding injuries has helped him to pull ahead as the most successful male player of all time, while the same cannot be said for Nadal and fellow ‘big three’ rival Roger Federer.

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It seems likely that Djokovic will end up with more Grand Slam triumphs than Nadal, with the reigning US Open champion widely expected to keep playing after the Spaniard retires next year. Nadal has already conceded that Djokovic is the greatest player in the history of tennis, insisting earlier this month that you only need to look at the numbers to find out who is the top dog.

“I believe that numbers are numbers and statistics are statistics,” Nadal told Spanish newspaper AS. “In that sense, I think [Djokovic] has better numbers than mine and that is indisputable, this is the truth.

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“The rest are tastes, inspiration, sensations that one or the other may transmit to you, that you may like one or the other more. I think that, with respect to titles, Djokovic is the best in history and there is nothing to discuss about that.”

The rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal is widely classed as one of the greatest in modern sporting history, with both players among the best to have ever picked up a tennis racket. Of the 59 times they have faced each other, Nadal leads the head-to-head on clay while Djokovic has won more games on hard courts. Both men have equal scores on grass with two wins apiece.

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