Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal spoke about how their respective achievements pushed each other on to become even more successful. Nadal has won 22 Grand Slams in his career, more than any other men’s singles player. Djokovic has 21 Grand Slams of his own, and the pair could come head-to-head at the ATP Finals this week in Turin. Djokovic leads their legendary head-to-head 30-29.
Novak Djokovic was effusive in his praise for Rafael Nadal, as the Nitto ATP Finals competitors took part in a unique interview.
Djokovic and Nadal spoke about the exploits of one another as the tournament pitting the world’s top-ranking men’s players got under way in Turin on Sunday.
The Serbian has locked horns with Nadal a total of 59 times and leads the head-to-head record by 30 wins to 29.
They could battle each again later this week in the knockout stages of a tournament, which in many people’s eyes, is ranked just below the four Grand Slams in its importance.
“I am really privileged to have the rivalry that we had over the years,” Djokovic said in an interview with the ATP Tour website.
“I think we respect each other a lot and we push each other to the limit and kind of motivate each other to go even higher. It’s great to be part of that era.”
Those feelings were mutual in this love-in between two of the sport’s all-time greats, with Grand Slam’s record winner Nadal praising Djokovic for his longevity.
“He’s able to be super professional, to control his body, to hold the passion,” Nadal.
“It doesn’t matter how things are going, he always keeps going until the end and that’s something very difficult, especially in a super long career after all the success.
“To keep having the passion and the love for the game, I think it’s something I admire a lot.”
Casper Ruud began the finals with a 7-6, 6-4 win over Felix Auger-Aliassime and spoke about the inspirational effect which Nadal and Djokovic had on his career.
“Everything they have brought to the table and every match is pure passion,” Ruud added.
“Them playing against each other was some of the most exciting things you could watch in sports in my opinion.”
Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are all previous champions in this event and Medvedev praised the highest-possible level of competition at the tournament.
“For me it’s about beating the best players in the world, because there is no other tournament where first match straight away you’re going to play a Top 10 player.
“There is not one more tournament like this, and it’s tough,” Medvedev said.
“You have to be at your ‘A’ game from the first match ’til the last one and that’s the toughest part, but that’s what you have to do to win.”
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