Novak Djokovic sheds light on an incident with Spanish rival Rafael Nadal that made him feel uncomfortable and intimidated.
Fewer rivalries have created as many iconic moments and matches as the Nadal and Novak one has. Throughout men’s singles tennis history, no one has won more than them. The rivals share a staggering 46 Grand Slam titles between them. However, this rivalry has also had its fair share of antics and drama.
A few months ago, the reigning world number one, Novak Djokovic, shared an incident that left him feeling intimidated by his Spanish rival. The incident dates back to the mid-2000s when Novak was a newcomer and was playing against the Spaniard at Roland Garros. Mind you that Rafael Nadal was an already established name and a French Open champion at that time.
Djokovic and Nadal were to face each other at the clay court of the French Open. The atmosphere was intense, but nearly everyone already knew who the winner was going to be. Nevertheless, the young Serbian was trying to keep his calm and compose himself in the locker room before the match.
But because the locker room was not the biggest, the opponents shared their lockers close by. Sometime later, Nadal began his pre-match rituals inside the room itself and that caught Novak off-guard who had not been in a similar situation before. The Serbian wasn’t ready for such antics in the pre-match itself.
The Serbian joined Jon Wertheim on the CBS’ 60 minutes TV Show to briefly describe that incident which not only scared him but also ‘p**sed’ him off.
“I’m playing Nadal in Roland Garros, and I have his locker next to my locker, right? So, we are so close. And we’re tryin’ to give each other space. But then the locker room is also not that big,” said Novak in the 60-minute interview.
Djokovic gives a vivid description of Nadal’s locker-room habits that cowed him.
“And, the way you jump around like Nadal does before we go out on the court. In the locker room, he’s doing sprints next to you. I can even hear the music he’s listening to, you know, in his headphones. So, you know, it’s pissing me off,” the Serbian added.
“It was never, never, never my intention,” Rafael Nadal defends his actions from the pre-match incident
Rafael Nadal, in a recent interview, spoke out on this issue and clarified his stance. He denied allegations of bullying/intimidation as made by his Serbian rival, Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard spoke with the Spanish newspaper, El Paris, in defense of his actions. He said that these were normal warmups for him that he usually performs as a pre-match routine to fire himself up.
“It was never, never, never my intention. I warm up like this. I try to be prepared and ready to go, and I exercise, nothing more. I haven’t heard what he said, honestly,” Nadal stood his ground and justified his actions.