Rafael Nadal clarified the claims made by Novak Djokovic of feeling ‘intimidated’ by the Spaniard’s pre-match routine during their French Open encounters.
The two tennis greats have met each other 18 times in the Grand Slams, and have played 10 of them at the French Open. Rafael Nadal who is a 14-time French Open winner, leads the head-to-head record 8-2. They had their first French Open meeting in 2006, in which Nadal led 6-4, 6-4 before the Serbian retired due to injury.
In a recent interview with CBS for 60 minutes, Djokovic expressed a locker room incident from his early encounters with Nadal at Roland Garros. He revealed that he felt intimidated by Nadal’s pre-match routines.
“I’m playing Nadal in Roland Garros, and I have his locker next to my locker, right? So, we are close. And we’re tryin’ to give each other space. But then the locker room is also not that big.”-Novak Djokovic in an interview with CBS for 60 minutes
He mentioned being ‘p*ssed off’ by the Spaniard jumping, doing sprints, and listening to loud music before he entered the court.
“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 p*ssing me off.”-Novak Djokovic in an interview with CBS for 60 minutes
Djokovic admitted to being intimidated initially when he didn’t realize those exercises were part of Nadal’s preparations. However, later the intimidation turned into motivation when he understood.
“Absolutely, Early in my career, I didn’t realize how that’s all part of the scenario, right? So, I was getting intimidated by that. But, it’s also motivating me to do stuff myself and show that I’m ready, you know? I’m ready for a battle, for a war.”–Novak Djokovic in an interview with CBS for 60 minutes
Nadal in response to his revelation, said that intimidating his opponent was never his intention. He clarified by saying that his focus during his warm-up routine was solely on his own preparations.
“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.”-Rafael Nadal told El Pais
Rafael Nadal’s return impresses tennis figures
Rafael Nadal’s phenomenal performance at the Brisbane International tournament has impressed many of his fellow players. Among them was former World No.1 Boris Becker who expressed his happiness on Rafael Nadal’s opening win against Dominic Thiem.
Rafael Nadal suffered a hip injury last year at the 2023 Australian Open which forced him to stay out of action. He underwent surgery and successfully recovered to make a return to action at the start of the 2024 season.
Six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker labeled him as ‘absolutely amazing’ on the social media platform X. He highlighted the fact that Nadal who had been away from the game for nearly a year defeated Dominic Thiem in the first round in Brisbane.
“@RafaelNadal is absolutely amazing! Having not played in more than 350 days after hip surgery, beating @dominicthiem 7:5 6:1 in the first round in Brisbane.”-Boris Becker on X