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NADAL AND DJOKOVIC DIFFER ON THE RACE FOR RECORDS

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Small spat between the world number 3 Rafael Nadal and the number 1 Novak Djokovic about the record of Grand Slam titles.

Even if they respect each other, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have never been intimate. And in recent months, in the anxiety-inducing context of the pandemic, there has been some friction on the line between these two giants of the small yellow ball. And the « politically correct » Nadal no longer hesitates to scratch his Serbian rival, so divisive. This time it is the race for Grand Slam title records that is a subject of controversy between the Serb and the Spaniard. In the context of the promotion of a non-alcoholic beer, Djokovic has again toasted. Nadal confided Monday to the British daily Metro: « I want to win more Grand Slams, yes. No doubt about it. But Novak (Djokovic) is more obsessed with it, more focused. Not in a negative way. No, he is more focused only on those things and that means a lot to him. As he always says and talks about these records… And kudos to him, but that’s not my approach to my career. »
With twenty Grand Slam titles to his name, the Spaniard, soon to be 35, is ahead of 33-year-old Novak Djokovic (18) and talks about « healthy ambition ». « Of course I’m ambitious, otherwise I would never be in the position I’m in today, but I probably have a different kind of ambition than him, for example. » At a press conference at the Belgrade tournament where he is the ambassador and attraction, the world number 1 responded to the Majorcan soberly. « It’s all about perception and interpretation of what you say. I respect Rafa, probably more than any other player in the world. But I continue to open my only path, Rafa has his, and I do not interfere. His motivation is his motivation, I don’t get into it. Personally, I don’t feel obsessed with anything in life. What I feel is passion. I’ve never had a problem verbalizing my goals. I’ve never had a problem saying, « I want to break this record or reach a certain goal. » I don’t know why that would be a bad thing, not just about records, but about anything, like politics in tennis. »

Tensions between the two champions
Last August, Novak Djokovic had announced the creation of a new association grouping only players (PTPA), Rafael Nadal, as well as Roger Federer were opposed to it, calling to « work together ». During the last Australian Open, Novak Djokovic had sent a letter to the director of the Australian Open, Craig Tiley, in which he proposed to improve the conditions for players. A letter that was made public, but which did not meet with unanimous approval. « Some people need to make public everything they do to help others. Others do it in a more private way, without having to publish or make public everything they do. The appeals we make to help the most disadvantaged players, some of us don’t need to want to publicize it, » Rafael Nadal had then gently tackled to the microphone of ESPN Tennis.

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