Novak Djokovic full of praise for ‘greatest rival’ Rafael Nadal ahead of Italian Open final

Novak Djokovic in action

Novak Djokovic has declared Rafael Nadal his “greatest rival of all time” after qualifying to face him in the final of the Italian Open.

The world number one came through a two-and-a-half-hour marathon in the semi-finals against Diego Schwartzman, eventually winning out 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3.

After the match, he was full of praise for Nadal, who has an astonishing 11 Roland Garros titles to his name and 17 Grand Slams in total.

“It’s the ultimate challenge,“ said Djokovic of playing second-ranked Nadal on clay.

“I’ve had so many matches against him. Up to date, we had the longest rivalry of tennis of all time. Every time we get to play each other, it’s a thrill.

“He’s one of the greatest champions this game has ever seen.

“His mentality, his approach, his resilience, ability to fight back after long absence from the tour, injuries, surgeries, he’s had it all.

“He keeps on showing to the world why he’s one of the biggest legends of tennis history.

“I have greatest respect for him. He’s my greatest rival of all time, for sure.”

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