Djokovic shocks "Federer and Nadal excluded and judged me"

In an interview with the Times, the Serbian champion talked about the complicated relationship he has with the Swiss and the Spaniard

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Djokovic shocks "Federer and Nadal excluded and judged me"
© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

The great champions who face each other on the court are unable to love each other, with a few exceptions. One of which is the solid friendship between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. However, the situation is different for Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian champion returned to talk about the complicated relationship he had during his career with Federer and Nadal, his two all-time great rivals in the race to become the greatest tennis player of all time. In an interview with The Times, the Serbian champion released some very harsh words about his two colleagues, openly saying how he felt excluded from their duopoly.

"There was no room for three. In all the most famous sporting rivalries it's always about two people, not three. In soccer it's Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. So I understand that this is probably one of the reasons why I was excluded," he revealed, surprising the fans.

Nole never hid, even after the first successes, that the goal was to consistently beat Roger and Rafa. On this issue he explained: "I wasn't afraid to say that I wanted to beat these guys, to be number one. I said it when I was a teenager and I think a lot of people didn't like it, including them, so they immediately kept me out and they judged a lot.

Also for my attitude, of reiterating that I am better than them, I will be the best. I knew someone with this kind of mentality would be polarizing. A group of people will say: I like the confidence of him, but others will think: Look at this arrogant idiot." "Do I want to be loved? I think at the beginning of my career I really tried to be a little more connected with people, particularly in the places where they wanted Federer and Nadal, or Andy Murray, the most.

But I also realized that there are several factors why I won't get more support than them. So I asked myself: do I continue to try to win over people or do I accept it and move on?" Nole underlined during the long interview.

Djokovic and Federer© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

But I want to focus on the beauty of their rivalry

What has emerged over the years is the esteem that Federer and Nadal had between each other, and why the indifference towards the Serbian.

Probably a question of character. Not everyone can get along with everyone. Djokovic's many victories against Nadal and (especially) against Federer have inevitably turned him against the fans of the Spaniard and the Swiss. Fans are blind in general: it's okay to have your own preference, but I think the most important thing is to see everything clearly.

These three champions have reshaped tennis, and we must all be forever grateful to each of the three, for giving us these unforgettable emotions. A tennis era like that will never come back. Fans instead of slaughtering each other, should toast for having been lucky enough to see Djokovic, Nadal and Federer all in the same ere.

The words and the digs that Nadal recently threw at Djokovic (the Spaniard praised Federer at the same time), or the words that the questionable Srdjan (Nole's father) has released on Federer several times, are part of the game.

Instead I want to talk about beauty, fortune and glory. I want to focus on the shiny side of the issue. In twenty or thirty years, what will I remember about this tennis era? What will I take with me? Lucky to have seen Nole, Rafa and Roger compete.

Their great rival Andy Murray spoke about the Big 3 a few days ago, sharing prophetic opening words: "Solving some problems helped me feel better on the pitch. Yes, definitely a bit of attention to the mental part. Reformulating the way in which I Looking at things definitely helps.

It's more about how you deal with frustration and disappointment and everything else when you play. I don't see Novak laughing and joking while playing his matches. I've never seen him with Roger and Rafa. My retirement ? I don't know, to be honest, maybe nothing.

I understand better what happens when you're Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams, or whoever. Everyone wants to see them one last time, for me it's probably not the same!" What else to add about these three great champions, who have given us emotions for years? One and only word comes to mind, which summarizes (I hope!) the opinion of many millions of fans across the planet.

You can prefer Roger, Rafa or Nole, you can rage against them, you can compete, spit sentences, shout, get angry, rejoice, you can say my favorite is better than yours, in the end there is only one thing. Roger, Rafa, Nole: thank you.

Nadal and Djokovic© Michael Dodge / Stringer Getty Images Sport