Tennis

Novak Djokovic admits he and Rafael Nadal aren't good friends

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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have formed arguably one of tennis' greatest ever rivalries on-court, and it seems as though they aren't the best of friends off it either.

Both men have reached a second week at Roland Garros and many will hope that the pair will meet in another epic final.

If they do meet in the Paris showdown on Sunday, the handshakes before and after the contest for the cameras won't necessarily have any deeper meaning.

Djokovic has admitted that the level of competition between him and the Spaniard makes it difficult for the ultra-talented duo to get along.

"Nadal and I have always respected each other," he said to Marca.com after booking his place in the quarter-finals.

"We always meet up in the most important tournaments' finals but we always speak well the one of the other and that is a good thing.

"Above all, we are people, human beings and we should have that clear in our heads. Obviously, we can't be best of friends. We aren't, but it's important to respect and understand each other"

With the stakes so high in the sport, it must be difficult a certain level of friendship. But there are no indications that their relationship is sour, like so many rivalries across the history of sport.

The two are currently locked in battle as they bid to reign the clay Grand Slam.

Nadal is no stranger to success in Paris. His tag of the 'King of Clay' was afforded him following the sheer weight of triumph that the world no.1 has tasted in his career. No man has ever won nine titles at Roland Garros, and the 27-year-old is closing-in on the record.

The Majorcan-born star can also match Pete Sampras' major haul of 14 with one more final victory, in that instance, only Roger Federer - who was knocked out yesterday - on 17 titles would be left to surpass.

Djokovic, meanwhile, despite his clay credentials, has been forced to live in the Spaniard's shadow, though he is close to emerging as the bright light this time around. None of the world no.2's six Grand Slam titles have come on the French dirt and he will be desperate to end that hoodoo. A final loss in 2012 against his rival is as good as it has got.

Many believe that the Serbian star will finally achieve his Career Slam following his run of stellar form. Before an arm injury he won at both Indian Wells and Miami, and after pulling out of the Madrid Open, the former world no.1 marked his return with glory at the Rome Masters.

Djokovic beat the fans favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with apparent ease to reach the last eight yesterday, and Nadal can join him if he beats another Serbian star, Dusan Lajovic, today.

Even though the 26-year-old believes his rival will secure a ninth Roland Garros gong this year, he also enjoys their great rivalry: "The big favourite here in Paris is Nadal, who has already won it eight times," he continued.

"It's nice to form a part of history with Rafa, who I consider one of the best tennis players of all time"

The action at the French Open continues today.

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Topics:
Tennis
Novak Djokovic
French Open
Rafael Nadal

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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