Novak Djokovic’s father discussed his son’s relationship with some of the other top tennis players in the world in a recent interview, and he says Rafael Nadal’s behavior towards Nole changed after the Serb surpassed the Spaniard as a player.
Nadal leads Djokovic 20-15 head-to-head, thanks largely to a 13-3 record against him on clay. But Djokovic has given Nadal more problems than any other player. He beat Nadal seven straight times, including three straight times in grand slam finals from 2011-2012. Djokovic’s father says Nadal began treating his son differently after that.
Djokovic’s father was also down on Roger Federer, who discredited Djokovic for complaining about injuries.
Here is a translation of Djokovic’s father’s comments:
[Srdjan Djokovic] also said that Nadal used to be Novak’s best friend while he was winning. But when things changed, they were no longer friends. This is not sport, says Srdjan. This is what Novak has in him, but others don’t. Federer may still be the best tennis player in the history of tennis, says Srdjan, but as man he is completely opposite. He attacked Novak at Davis Cup in Geneva, he realized Novak is his successor and in every way tried to discredit him.
That incident described by Srdjan occurred in 2006 when a young Djokovic was facing Federer’s Swiss teammate Stanislas Wawrinka in the Davis Cup. Djokovic called out a trainer for what Federer felt was a lame reason, leading to Federer’s criticism.
“I don’t trust his injuries. I’m serious. I think he’s a joke, you know, when it comes down to his injuries,” Federer said of Djokovic. Federer says the two have patched things up since then.
The one relationship Djokovic’s father says has remained the same is between his son and Andy Murray. The two are nearly identical in age and grew up playing against each other. Even though they have emerged as rivals, Djokovic’s dad expects the two to continue their strong relationship away from the court.
The big irony in all of these comments is that Djokovic’s father said the family tries to avoid interviews and media because they feel like it’s mostly negative or that what they say gets portrayed negatively. He’s probably right about that — he had a long interview talking about how difficult life was trying to give Novak a future in the sport and all the sacrifices they made, and this is the headline he gets. You can go here to read the entire interview, which talks about all the struggles they had when Nole was growing up.
Racquet clap to Beyond the Baseline