Published On: Thu, Jan 16th, 2020

Novak Djokovic talks up ‘special’ rivalry with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer | Tennis | Sport

Novak Djokovic has opened up on his rivalry with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and explained how they’ve inspired each other to be better. The decorated trio have won 51 of the past 59 Grand Slam events and ahead of the Australian Open they are once again the leading candidates for the title.

Djokovic is the defending champion and comes in full of confidence after winning all of his eight matches at the ATP Cup.

One of those wins came against Nadal in the final as the Serbian sent a message to the rest of the field about his superiority.

That was the 55th match between the pair and the Serbian has also played Federer 49 times.

Together they have pushed each other to break countless records and set milestones which are unlikely to be beaten.

Djokovic was part of the draw ceremony for the Australian Open, where he will face German Jan Lennard-Struff in the first round.

The 32-year-old was asked about his rivalry with Nadal and Federer and spoke of how they have helped take the sport to new heights.

He said: “We’ve helped each other a lot to evolve as players and I think on and off the court as well to understand how we can get better and the things that we can improve so that when we face each other we can be the best versions of ourselves so we can pull out the best quality of tennis that we can.

“That’s what is take to win against each other because we always require the best tennis from our opponent and between the three of us I think the intensity, the anticipation before the match just obliges us in a way to step it up and play our best because otherwise we’re going to lose a match.

“That kind of rivalry has been special between the three of us has brought us to these tennis heights where we are at the moment.

“We still look at each other’s games, careers and we still compare our career to the other guy and I think that’s the beauty of the rivalry and we are contributing in a way to the evolution of the sport.”

Last year, Djokovic blasted his way past Nadal in the Australian Open final and few other players are capable of stopping him on a hard court in Australia.

And the 16-time Grand Slam champion says that display ranks alongside one other as his best ever.

He said: “That was probably the best performance I’ve had in finals of Grand Slams in my career. Probably the two most epic matches that I was part of were the finals against Rafa here in 2012 and against Roger last year in Wimbledon.

“But in terms of performance and quality of tennis, last year’s final against Rafa was probably the best one I had.

“Rafa was in great form, he hadn’t dropped a set in the entire tournament. The way I played was just amazing. I was very proud and obviously I’ve been trying to remember that and relive those memories. It’s one of those days when everything works perfectly.

“I was really in a good state of mind, I was positive and it reflected on my game.”

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