In a candid conversation ahead of his appearance at the 2023 Paris Masters, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has expressed a heartfelt desire to cultivate a closer friendship with longtime rival Rafael Nadal following their retirement from professional tennis.
Speaking with the French media outlet C a vous, Djokovic, who has clinched the ATP Masters 1000 event a remarkable six times, shed light on his relationship with Nadal. "Rafael Nadal is an exceptional player for me. While we may not be friends now, there's a deep mutual respect between us.
I am hopeful that once our careers come to a close, we'll be able to share a drink on the beach and discuss life," Djokovic remarked, translated from the original.
"Rafael Nadal est un joueur très spécial pour moi, ce n'est pas trop mon ami mais on a du respect l’un pour l’autre.
J'espère qu'après notre carrière, on pourra se faire un verre sur la plage, parler de la vie."
Nadal/Djokovic, adversité ou amitié : @DjokerNole dans #CàVous pic.twitter.com/iDLetAUTTK — C à vous (@cavousf5) October 30, 2023
Riveting Rivalry Recap
Djokovic and Nadal have etched their names in tennis history, engaging in a riveting rivalry that has seen them face each other a staggering 59 times.
Djokovic slightly leads in their head-to-head record with 30 wins, while Nadal has 29. However, when it comes to Grand Slam matchups, Nadal has the upper hand with an 11-7 record, including eight victories at Roland Garros.
Despite nursing a hip injury sustained at the 2023 Australian Open, Nadal plans to return to the court and eventually retire in the 2024 season. Meanwhile, Djokovic has recently surpassed Nadal in the all-time Grand Slam winners' tally, securing his 24th Major title at the US Open in September.
Nadal, holding 22 Grand Slam titles, graciously acknowledged Djokovic's supremacy, stating, "Numbers are numbers, and statistics speak for themselves. Novak has better numbers than I do, and that's indisputable. While personal preferences and the emotions players evoke vary, when it comes to titles, Novak is the best in history, and there's no debating that." As the tennis world anticipates Djokovic's performance in Paris, starting on November 1st, the Serbian star's openness about his relationship with Nadal adds a poignant note, reminding fans of the deep respect and camaraderie that exists even in the most intense rivalries.
Djokovic's vision of a post-retirement friendship offers a glimpse into the future, where these two legends may share moments of reflection away from the court's fierce competition.