Novak Djokovic opens up on time he was 'intimidated' by Rafael Nadal

Djokovic and Nadal have had one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history.

by Dzevad Mesic
Novak Djokovic opens up on time he was 'intimidated' by Rafael Nadal
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Novak Djokovic revealed he was "intimidated" by Rafael Nadal when he met the Spaniard for the first time at the French Open. Djokovic and Nadal, who have played against each other 59 times, met for the first time at the 2006 French Open.

That year, Nadal was up by two sets on Djokovic in the French Open quarterfinal when the Serb retired the match. "I'm playing Nadal in Roland Garros, and I have his locker next to my locker, right? So, we are so close. And we're trying to give each other space.

But then the locker room is also not that big. And, the way you jump around like Nadal does before we go out on the court. In the locker room, he's doing sprints next to you. I can even hear the music he's listening to, you know, in his headphones.

So, you know, it's pissing me off," Djokovic said on 60 Minutes on CBS News.

Djokovic recalls being intimidated by Nadal's tactic early in his career

"Absolutely. Early in my career, I didn't realize how all that's part of the scenario, right? So, I was getting intimidated by that.

But it's also motivating me to do stuff myself and to show that I'm ready, you know? I'm ready for a battle, for a war," Djokovic said. After many years of falling just short of winning the French Open, Djokovic finally won his first title at Roland Garros in 2016.

Before beating Andy Murray in the 2016 French Open final, Djokovic had three final losses at Roland Garros and on four other occasions he exited the tournament in the semifinal - most of those defeats came from Nadal. But eventually, Djokovic managed to make a French Open breakthrough and complete a Career Grand Slam. This year, Djokovic won his third French Open title in Nadal's absence.

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal