Tennis Prose



Nadal Takes Some Jabs At Djokovic

The Barcelona Open has begun and Rafael Nadal directed some passive-aggressive jabs at his arch rival Novak Djokovic.

“Like he’s (Novak Djokovic) always saying and talking about these records and well done for him but it’s not my approach. I have a healthy ambition. Of course I am ambitious. If not, I would never be in the position I am today. But I have probably a different kind of ambition than him.”

“Of course, I want to win more Slams, yes. No doubt about that. But I never get – I mean, Novak is more obsessed about this, more focused…”

“Not in a negative way. No, he’s more focused on just these things and it means a lot to him all of this stuff. Like he’s always saying and talking about these records and well done for him. But it’s not my approach to my tennis career.”

It seems, Nadal, the winner of 20 Grand Slams, is taking some veiled shots at his contrasting rival Djokovic by implying the Serbian 18-time major champion is more greedy and covetous than himself. And that his own ambitions are healthier than Djokovic’s. But evidences would indicate it’s Nadal who is actually more ambitious, ruthless and tenaciously driven to win the most majors, and distance himself from Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The difference is Djokovic is just more open and honest about his hopes and dreams.

Nadal only recently was married – Djokovic married his childhood sweetheart almost a decade ago and they have two kids together. Nadal and Xisca have not had any kids yet. Did family take a second priority behind Nadal’s tennis ambitions and obsessions?

Nadal has always played the humble champion, but underneath the facade, he is the most vicious, ferocious competitor the sport has ever saw, and he’s one of the greatest and most inspiring champions in sports history.

There is an element of ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ to the overall Nadal complex character.

Djokovic has a different nature, he is more colorful and outspoken about his sincere wishes and aspirations to break all the major records of tennis. And what is wrong with such honesty and sincerity if you can back up the words with actions? Djokovic, aside from a few questionable injuries and maladies, commonly referred to as “playing possum”, keeps it real.

Hey, if you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, then baffle ’em with bullshi*!

Not to take Nadal’s words out of context but to draw attention to this personal difference with Djokovic in a public forum shortly before the French Open, could be construed as a form of psychological warfare.

These choice words by Nadal, directed at his arch rival, will add another layer of intrigue and drama to the 2021 French Open, as will the surprise reappearance of Roger Federer, who just has announced he will play Geneva and French Open, undoubtedly a decision motivated by the need to try to protect his record of 20 majors and perhaps even win the title, which would be his second French Open and 21st overall Grand Slam major.

Nadal, Federer and Djokovic all set to lock horns and wage war in Paris. The stakes have never been greater.


UPDATE: Djokovic responds in Belgrade: “Why would verbalizing my goals be a bad thing? I cannot speak on his behalf, I do not know the way he thinks, but, it is his right to voice an opinion: how he sees me in regards to records, etc. Personally, I do not feel that I am obsessed with anything in life; what I feel is passion and huge desire. I am going towards achieving my goals and I have never had a problem verbalizing it. Maybe someone cannot say something and then stick to it, but I never found it hard to say: ‘I want to break that record or reach a certain goal’. I do not know why would that be a bad thing, not just in terms of records, but anything, politics in tennis for instance.”

“Ever since I was a young player, I did not fear voicing my goals: I wanted to be number one and to win Slams. Of course, those goals are growing – when you fulfil one, another one appears. It is my path, and it is unique, just like Rafa’s.”

“It is all a matter of perception and interpretation of what one says. I respect Rafa, probably more than any other player in the world; he is the biggest rival I had in my life. Everything he has achieved, his dedication to tennis and the way he goes about practicing and tennis in general, these traits of his are worthy of admiration. He knows what sources of motivation he has, I cannot go into that.”

“I have said a lot of times in the past that the love for the sport is the main motive why I keep playing professional tennis. I mean, guys, if I did not really love the competition…There would be no other reason for me to compete, there is no pressure of any kind. I go on playing because I still feel the fire and the desire to win, and because I have the support of my close ones. I will keep on going as long as it is like that.”

“I believe every athlete needs to have goals in front of him; that allows him to know where point A and point B are, and then how to get from one to another. By setting goals, you accomplish mental clarity needed to stay disciplined, responsible and organized. In a word, a measure stick is needed. I have had periods in my life during which I did not have a clear vision. During those times I did not know what I wanted or in which direction I was headed, and it did not end well for me. My parents and my tennis parents as well have taught me to always have a clear concept in front of me – what I want to accomplish, how do I want to accomplish it, and with whom.”

· ·


  • Scoop Malinowski · April 19, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Interested to hear how Djokovic responds to this Nadal strike.

  • Bill McGill · April 19, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    I feel like some of these barbs are media induced. Djokovic “talks” about these records because he keeps getting asked questions about these records at mandatory press conferences. I doubt he ever brings it up in the locker room.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 19, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Good points Bill. Muhammad Ali is revered and lionized for verbalizing his goals and ambitions, so why isn’t Djokovic? No matter what Djokovic does or says, the anti Djokovi agenda rambles on. Hopefully he will never get it as bad as Margaret Court.

  • Sam · April 20, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    People don’t usually take jabs at others for no good reason. Most likely, Nadal is feeling threatened by Djokovic–and probably even envious.

    If I were Djokovic, I would just have ignored Nadal’s comments. 🙂 Actually, that’s one thing I admire about Djokovic–he seems to be upfront about his ambition and doesn’t hide behind a facade of false humility.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 20, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Sam, Djokovic is a proud Serbian, and a great champion, he will not suffer fools or cheap shots from his arch rivals without some kind of retaliation response. The more this marathon war between the three keeps progressing it’s Djokovic who is standing out more and more as the most magnanimous and respectful champion of the three. I have huge respect for all three but from the beginning of his emergence Djokovic has impressed me the most, with his character and performance. Which is no knock on the other two.



Find it!

Copyright 2010
To top