Novak Djokovic on rivalry with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, his pursuit of No 1 record and setting new goals
Novak Djokovic has opened up about his “tremendous rivalries” with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, saying they have had a positive impact on his “game and growth” and stressing that he is “not jealous of their success”.
The world No 1 kicked off his campaign for a ninth Australian Open trophy and an 18th Grand Slam title with another excellent win on Monday.
Should he be the last man standing at Melbourne Park on February 21 then he will edge closer to the overall major record of 20, which is currently shared by his fellow Big Three members.
Djokovic was asked about his two rivals’ milestone after his first-round win and replied: “I respect all of my opponents’ records.
“Roger and Rafa are legends of our sport, and I admire them a lot. They have positively affected my game and my growth, my development and all my success wouldn’t be what it is if these two guys were not there.
“So I have had tremendous rivalries with these two guys and we still keep on going. But I don’t want any of their success, if you know what I mean. I’m not jealous of their success or anything like that. I try to build my own career and my own success.”
He added: “I have been fortunate, without a doubt, to experience a lot of success and break records in our sport that I obviously love and am very passionate about. Of course, I am always motivated and inspired to achieve big goals and break records.”
Aside from winning more Grand Slams, Djokovic also has his sights firmly set on the record for most weeks at No 1. The Serbian is currently on 308 weeks, just two weeks sky of Federer’s all-time record and he is expected to pass the mark on March 8.
“I have been very transparent about the fact that one of my biggest goals is to try to reach the No 1 all-time weeks record, and I’m getting closer and closer to that one,” he said.
“Obviously, that’s kind of a lifetime achievement for me and Grand Slams, as well. Of course, I think I have managed to be very consistent at the [ATP] Masters 1000 events and win a lot of titles there. Those are the biggest events that we have on the Tour other than Grand Slams. Those are the biggest events that we have on the Tour other than Grand Slams.”
He added: “I respect and study the history of the game and the guys that paved the way for all of us that are here at the moment. I’m just very fortunate to be in the situation and position that I’m in at the moment, so I [will] try to keep on going and obviously set up new goals for myself.”
Andy Murray shows reals signs of promise despite defeat to Andrey Rublev
There were certainly encouraging signs for Murray, who came through the physical test against the big-hitting fourth seed.
Angry Andy Murray loses to world number eight Andrey Rublev in Rotterdam
The three-time grand slam winner smashed his racket into the ground as he was beaten 7-5 6-2.
ATP announces ‘Covid Protection Ranking’ amid ongoing restrictions
ATP announces new system and some tweaks to other systems.
WATCH: Turning his back on play, brilliant winners, racket smashing from Daniil Medvedev as he loses
Daniil Medvedev entertains, even when he loses.
‘I just don’t feel well here’ – Alexander Zverev’s Rotterdam woes continue as he bemoans early exit
Early exit for Alexander Zverev in Rotterdam.
As football’s VAR struggles continue, tennis celebrates 15 years of Hawk-Eye’s electronic line calling system
Hawk-Eye in tennis, some like it, some don’t.
Rafael Nadal vows he will continue to play tennis as long as he is ‘healthy and able to compete’
Rafael Nadal on retirement.
Tim Henman says ‘mesmerising’ Roger Federer ‘won’t just make up the numbers’ upon his return
Tim Henman on Roger Federer’s comeback.
Andrey Rublev expects ‘fun’ match against ‘true legend’ Andy Murray as Scot praises Russian’s work ethic
Andrey Rublev and Andy Murray sing each other’s praises.
Stefanos Tsitsipas explains how change in mindset helped him to turn things around in Rotterdam opener
Stefanos Tsitsipas shows some fight in Rotterdam win.