'Nadal, Roger helped my career'

Rivalries with Spaniard, Swiss sharpened my game, says Djokovic

'Nadal, Roger helped my career'

Novak Djokovic has been among the first to break the monopoly of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the tennis world. From being known more as an entertainer, earning the nickname of ‘Djoker’ on tour, to World No 1,  the Serb’s rise has been spectacular as well as inspiring.

While collecting seven Grand Slam trophies, he developed unique on-court rivalries with both Federer and Nadal, raising the level of the game.

“They are both very different rivals, but both rivalries contributed to my career and in a way, they made me understand what I need to do, and how much I need to work in order to challenge them and to win against them, win trophies and eventually get to No 1.

These rivalries have been a big part of my improvement, my success over the years. I respect them as players and people,” Djokovic, fresh from winning his third successive ATP World Tour Finals, told reporters on the sidelines of IPTL.

After Djokovic, it was Andy Murray who staked his claim for top honours to be counted in the league of ‘Big Four’ but Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic have already signalled the winds of change. Djokovic admitted that 2015 would be “unpredictable and interesting”.

“It is hard to say who are the favourites to win Grand Slam titles, especially after the last two seasons of having four different winners. Obviously Cilic and Wawrinka have proven to everybody that it is possible,” he said.

“The dominance of Roger and Rafa, first of all, over the years was fantastic and incredible and then Andy Murray and myself got into the mix. Now it is normal to expect there is a new generation of players. Even there are younger players like (Kei) Nishikori, (Milos) Raonic who have the quality to win Grand Slams. It is definitely going to be an interesting year.”

His recent marriage and fatherhood, he insisted, would not come in the way of his professional ambition. With Roger Federer having another set of twins and Murray set to marry his long-time girlfriend, the 27-year-old laughed that they would be “one big family on the tour”.

“Of course, when you are on the court you want to win. But at the end of the day it is sport and we are all humans. We respect each other and have good relationships.”

The coming year would once again put the 27-year-old in pursuit of that elusive French Open title.  “I have come pretty close a few times. But I have a small problem there, his name is Nadal and he is not going away (laughs).

“But I am going to push hard for it. The way I played against Rafa on clay courts and some other events have given me reason to believe that I can do even better (against him). Hopefully I can do that (win French Open title) before the end of my career.”

Djokovic was satisfied with his partnership with Boris Becker. “He contributes a lot, mostly from the psychological point of view, to my tennis. In the last six months of the 2014 season, things went the way we wanted. We finished No 1 and won Wimbledon and other titles. I see this partnership going only in positive direction,” he said.
DH News Service

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