Novak Djokovic recently revealed that despite their incredible achievements in tennis, he, Rafa Nadal, and Roger Federer have never been friends. The intense rivalry between the trio throughout the years prevented them from forming close bonds.
In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Djokovic acknowledged that their competitive relationship allowed them to reach new heights in their tennis careers, leading to their remarkable combined total of 64 grand slam victories. While Djokovic always held Federer in high regard and acknowledged his impact on the sport, he clarified that they were never close. Similarly, he mentioned that although he had shared a couple of dinners with Nadal, friendship remained impossible.
Djokovic admitted that the fierce rivalry among them made it challenging to establish a friendship. However, he emphasized the utmost respect he had for both Federer and Nadal.
He attributed his own success and development as a player to the inspiration he drew from his two rivals. Despite their lack of personal closeness, Djokovic acknowledged that their unique bond as competitors would unite them forever. He even went so far as to claim that he had spent more time with Nadal over the past 15 years than with his own mother.
Federer’s retirement in 2022 brought about an emotional moment for the trio during the Laver Cup. Djokovic is set to be the only one competing in the upcoming French Open, as Nadal is expected to withdraw due to his ongoing recovery from injury.
Djokovic reflected on his career and identified his Wimbledon victory over Federer in 2019 and the Australian Open final against Nadal in 2012 as the toughest matches he had ever played. The three players currently share the record for the most grand slam wins, with Djokovic and Nadal tied at 22, and Federer closely behind with 20.
Nadal’s absence from the Italian Open in Rome in May raised concerns about his participation in the French Open. He explained that he was not at the required level due to an injury suffered during the Australian Open. Nadal expressed his disappointment at missing a tournament that held great significance for him, both professionally and personally.
Despite some positive footage showing him moving well on the court, the adaptation process and the need for more time for training had hampered his recovery. Nadal’s coach, Carlos Moya, expressed a desire for him to play on clay before the French Open but remained optimistic about his progress.
Overall, the dynamic trio of Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer, despite their remarkable accomplishments, have never managed to establish a friendship due to their intense rivalry. Their mutual respect and admiration, however, have driven them to push each other to greater heights. With Nadal’s recent injury concerns, his participation in the French Open remains uncertain, while Djokovic continues to be a formidable force in the tennis world.