“Integral part of who I am,” Novak Djokovic praises Rafael Nadal’s role in shaping his life while reminiscing the Big 4 rivalry

Novak Djokovic beautifully summarizes his relationship the other three stalwarts of the Big 4 era


“Integral part of who I am,” Novak Djokovic praises Rafael Nadal’s role in shaping his life while reminiscing the Big 4 rivalry

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (Image Credit: ATP)

Novak Djokovic has been in a reminiscent mood since the time Rafael Nadal declared that 2024 might be the last season of his career. In his pre-tournament conference at Roland Garros, he opened up about how he got very emotional when Nadal spoke about his future plans and how he believed 2024 could be his last career season.

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After winning his first-round match at Philippe Chatrier court against Aleksandar Kovacevic, Novak Djokovic gave an interview with the Tennis Channel. He talked at length about how the Big 4 rivalry actually made him the person and the player that he is. Without the presence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, his life trajectory could be different. Especially the rivalry he shared with Rafael Nadal. The 36-year-old Serb said, “He (Rafael Nadal) is such an integral part of my career and who I am as a player and even as a person.”

He again mentioned how Rafael Nadal announcing his last season was a very emotional feeling. Djokovic said that the ‘Era of the four of us’, i.e. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, is heading toward its ultimate closure is a difficult truth to accept. “Its hard to comprehend…. and from my standpoint its quite a strange feeling for me,” said Djokovic in an affable manner.

Novak also joked about how he had seen his rivals more than his parents for the better part of his life. “We (Rafael Nadal and him) spent so much time together on the tour playing against each other. Playing each other and seeing each other, I mean I saw him more than I saw my parents in the last 20 years,” added Djokovic.

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Novak Djokovic hopes to develop a friendship with Rafael Nadal after they both retire

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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic (Image Credit: The NY Times)

Novak Djokovic endearingly accepted that though the Big4 spent time a lot of time together, they never developed a friendship. But he hopes to remedy that and be friends with Rafael Nadal after they both have hung their rackets. Djokovic shared the big stage with Rafael Nadal and developed a bond with the Spaniard, if not a deep friendship. Though whenever the Big 4 played against each other, one could see immense respect for one another’s craft.

Djokovic said, “There is this connection, even though we are rivals and didn’t spend too much time privately, we couldn’t develop a friendly relationship.” But that doesn’t stop him from hoping that they would embark on a close friendship after the two are done with their careers and have more time at hand. Djokovic added, “which I hope that we do (develop a friendship) after our careers.”

The entire world would love to see that friendship bloom and enjoy pictures of the two greatest tennis players of all time, perhaps holidaying with one another.

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This is the first Roland Garros that Rafael Nadal has missed since his first appearance in 2004, and it’s Novak Djokovic’s first campaign to win his 23rd Grand Slam title.

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