Novak Djokovic opens up: 'Rafael Nadal is not my friend'

Novak Djokovic spoke about Rafael Nadal ahead of the Paris Masters

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic opens up: 'Rafael Nadal is not my friend'
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic will seek his seventh Paris Masters title this week, leading the draw as the top seed. Novak held a pre-tournament press conference, discussing various topics and mentioning his great rival Rafael Nadal. Djokovic admitted Nadal is not his friend.

However, the Serb expressed his respect toward the Spaniard, saying he would love to have a drink with him in the future. Recently, Rafa spoke about Novak's ambition to chase the record number of Major titles, labeling it as a 'not too healthy' desire.

Djokovic made a classy response, saying nothing negative about Nadal. Novak disagreed with his great rival and still praised him as one of the sport's icons and someone who made him a better player. Djokovic and Nadal have played 59 times since 2006, with almost nothing separating them in a thrilling H2H.

Novak Djokovic would love to stay in touch with Rafael Nadal in the future.

Two great rivals have met only three times in the previous three seasons, splitting two wins at Roland Garros in 2021 and 2022. Nadal won their most recent duel in Paris 2022, prevailing 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in four hours and 12 minutes.

They met in Paris for the tenth time, and the Spaniard celebrated his eighth victory, avenging last year's defeat. The conditions were cold and slow, and Nadal made a notable comeback in the fourth set to avoid a decider. Rafa made the difference with his second serve, keeping it safe and overpowering Novak in the pivotal moments.

Nadal erased eight out of 12 break chances and turned 43% of the return points into seven breaks from 17 opportunities. The Spaniard dictated the pace with 57 winners and 43 unforced errors, leaving the Serb on a 48-53 ratio.

Rafa had a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes. He bested Novak in the most extended exchanges to seal the deal in four sets and preserve energy. Last year's Roland Garros remains Nadal's last Major title, struggling with injuries and playing only 13 matches since August 2022.

On the other hand, Novak secured three Majors this year, becoming the most successful player of all time and chasing his eighth year-end no. 1 honor. "Rafael Nadal is a very special player for me. He is not my friend, but we have respect for each other. I hope when our careers are over, we can have a drink on the beach and talk about life," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Paris Masters