Novak Djokovic says he and Rafael Nadal are not friends…yet

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup) /

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are clearly two of the best tennis players to ever walk the earth. But one thing they do not seem to do is go out to eat with each other very often. Maybe the tennis schedule or the level of competition they have had facing each other, but Novak Djokovic recently confirmed that he and Nadal are not friends.

This doesn’t mean they actively dislike each other, of course. And to be fair, they don’t have to be friends. But likely many of us would think it would be fun if Djokovic and Nadal were buddies and having a few drinks at a bar somewhere swapping stories about winning tournaments and the secrets to their trade that mere mortals would never understand.

While Rafael Nadal is only about one year older than Novak Djokovic – nearly exactly one year older, Nadal began playing on the ATP tour (2003) a couple of years before the Serb (2005) and this seems to have made a bit of a difference. Nadal was more quickly a rival of Roger Federer than Djokovic was, and Nadal versus Federer was more of an entrenched part of our collective tennis fan psyche than Djokovic versus anyone else.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal aren’t friends, but maybe one day they will be

By the time Novak Djokovic won his first Grand Slam (2008 Australian Open), Nadal had already been to five major finals and won three of them. Nadal was just a little bit ahead of Djokovic and this probably made it more difficult for them to get to know one another.

Recently, Nadal has also said some disparaging things about Djokovic, even if Nadal didn’t mean to be disrespectful. Nadal implied that Djokovic was somewhat blinded by his seeming need to win the most Grand Slams and that maybe the strive to be the best ever meant that Djokovic was lacking something personally. I am not sure if that is what Nadal meant, but one could certainly take that away from what he said.

But now Nadal and Novak Djokovic are likely both close to the ends of their careers, Nadal more than Djokovic. But with so much time to reflect on their respective careers and look forward to what happens after competitive tennis is done, maybe the two greats could become friends.

That is what Novak Djokovic hopes anyway. He told French TV show ‘C a Vous”, “Yes, Rafa (Nadal) is a very special player for me, for my whole evolution as a player. We’re not really friends, but we respect each other. I hope that after our careers, we can have a drink on the beach, talk about life.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? If they do end up having a conversation on the beach somewhere, hopefully someone is recording the conversation. Because if they do, any wisdom dropped from Nadal or Djokovic will help the rest of the world become better tennis players.

Next. Carlos Alcaraz needs to get Djokovic out of his head. dark