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Djokovic responds to Nadal: “I am not obsessed with anything in life”

Responding to comments made by Rafael Nadal about his ambitions, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic stated that he has verbalized his goals from an early age, emphasizing that the said approach allows him to have mental clarity.

Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic, Australian Open final, 2019 chryslene caillaud / panoramic

Anytime one member of the Big 3 speaks about one another, word travels fast across the globe. Discussing Rafael Nadal’s quotes about him, which were published late Sunday, Novak Djokovic said that he respects Nadal, but that he has never been obsessed with anything in life, and that his love for the sport is his main source of inspiration and reason why he keeps competing at the highest level. 

Speaking to Metro about his approach to tennis and records, Nadal said:

“Of course, I want to win more Slams, yes. No doubt about that. But I never get – I mean, Novak is more obsessed about this, more focused…”

At this point, according to the author, Nadal pauses for a moment before quickly shaking his hand and head, adding:

“Not in a negative way. No, he’s more focused on just these things and it means a lot to him all of this stuff. Like he’s always saying and talking about these records and well done for him. But it’s not my approach to my tennis career”.

Djokovic: “Why would verbalizing my goals be a bad thing?”

During his press conference in Belgrade, before the start of the Serbia Open, Djokovic was asked to comment on Nadal’s words.

“I cannot speak on his behalf, I do not know the way he thinks, but, it is his right to voice an opinion: how he sees me in regards to records, etc. Personally, I do not feel that I am obsessed with anything in life; what I feel is passion and huge desire. I am going towards achieving my goals and I have never had a problem verbalizing it. Maybe someone cannot say something and then stick to it, but I never found it hard to say: ‘I want to break that record or reach a certain goal’. I do not know why would that be a bad thing, not just in terms of records, but anything, politics in tennis for instance.”

Djokovic then added:

“Ever since I was a young player, I did not fear voicing my goals: I wanted to be number one and to win Slams. Of course, those goals are growing – when you fulfil one, another one appears. It is my path, and it is unique, just like Rafa’s.”

“I respect Rafa probably more than any other player”

Furthermore, in the same interview with Metro, Nadal said that he has a “healthy ambition”.

“Of course, I am ambitious, if not I would never be in the position I am today but I have probably a different kind of ambition than him, for example. I just keep going, keep doing what I’m doing and just try to put myself in a position to keep enjoying the tour and, of course, try to achieve as much as possible“.

Asked if he feels that his source of motivation and ambition is different to Nadal’s, Djokovic answered:

“It is all a matter of perception and interpretation of what one says. I respect Rafa, probably more than any other player in the world; he is the biggest rival I had in my life. Everything he has achieved, his dedication to tennis and the way he goes about practicing and tennis in general, these traits of his are worthy of admiration. He knows what sources of motivation he has, I cannot go into that.”

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros 2020

Djokovic stated that he has a lot of different motivations in tennis, and that trophies are not the only reason he is still playing, on the contrary.

“I have said a lot of times in the past that the love for the sport is the main motive why I keep playing professional tennis. I mean, guys, if I did not really love the competition…There would be no other reason for me to compete, there is no pressure of any kind. I go on playing because I still feel the fire and the desire to win, and because I have the support of my close ones. I will keep on going as long as it is like that”.

Djokovic: “When I did not have a clear vision, things did not end well for me”

Finally, Novak has stated that he sees his path more clearly when he sets his goals plainly.

“I believe every athlete needs to have goals in front of him; that allows him to know where point A and point B are, and then how to get from one to another. By setting goals, you accomplish mental clarity needed to stay disciplined, responsible and organized. In a word, a measure stick is needed. I have had periods in my life during which I did not have a clear vision. During those times I did not know what I wanted or in which direction I was headed, and it did not end well for me. My parents and my tennis parents as well have taught me to always have a clear concept in front of me – what I want to accomplish, how do I want to accomplish it, and with whom.”

After losing in the third round of Monte-Carlo Masters to Britain’s Dan Evans, Djokovic is looking to bounce back in hometown of Belgrade; after receiving a buy in the first round, he is due to play the winner of the Kwon Soonwoo v. Roberto Carballes Baena match in the second round.

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