Djokovic: “I hope Nadal and I will have a drink on some beach, some day, to talk about life”

Appearing as the special guest on a French TV program called ‘C à vous’, the world No 1 talked about Nadal, the Olympics and his past

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, 2016 in Shanghai Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, 2016 in Shanghai | © BPI / Panoramic

Before Novak Djokovic turned his attention to the Rolex Paris Masters – he was due to begin against Juan Martin Etcheverry on Wednesday – he was very much in demand in the French capital, appearing as a guest at the Ballon d’Or ceremony and being interviewed on one of the most popular TV shows in France, C à vous, on national television.

No place for long speeches in this type of program. Even less with Djokovic talking in French – with a more than decent level, but still slower than in English, not surprisingly. For instance, when discussing his hopes of winning a gold medal at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, the Serbian only had time to say: “I can tell (you) I’m thinking a lot about it”.

“We are not big friends, but we do respect each other” (on Nadal)

Djokovic was more prolific on his arch-rival Rafael Nadal. “He is a very special rival in my career,” Djokovic repeated. “My track record against him is not good at Roland-Garros. We are not too friendly, yes, but we do respect each other. But we hope – at least I hope, I can talk about me – that we will be able to take time to have a drink, on some beach, some day, to talk about life after our careers, with less stress and less expectations due to the competition.”

Recently Djokovic chose to contradict Nadal’s statement that “Novak feels more intensely (about the Grand Slam records) than (Nadal) do(es). Had he not achieved it, it may have been a bigger frustration for him.”

Djokovic: “I was always authentic”

Among other topics discussed, there were the imitations of other players that the Serb used to do. He stopped because of the other players’ reactions, Djokovic admitted. “People loved that, but the other players less, it was so-so for them.”

Djokovic recognised that he had to find the right tune in his communication habits, becoming a legend of the sport through the years. “My point as a professional is to find a way to win matches,” he stated. “Besides that, I am human after all and it’s not easy to keep constantly your focus on everything. I (did) things I was not proud of and I was honest enough with myself to work on my emotion management.”

I (did) things I was not proud of and I was honest enough with myself to work on my emotion management

Novak Djokovic

But he politely denied that he did special things because he wanted to be loved, in comparison to Federer’s or Nadal’s popularity. “On the way, I was always authentic,” he said.

There’s still a long way to reach perfection; for example, the images of him ripping his shirt after beating Carlos Alcaraz in the Cincinnati final. “I had a call from the brand (Lacoste),” Djokovic said. “Yes, they were not pleased.” No doubt they were on the same page again after Djokovic won his record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open, three weeks later.

After Alcaraz’s early exit in Paris, beaten first time out by Roman Safiullin, Djokovic is in a perfect position to finish the year as the world No 1 for the eighth time, which would extend the record he set in 2021.

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