Novak Djokovic envisions friendship with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal post-retirement

The Big 3 of tennis—Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal—are one of the sport’s most enigmatic trios of elite athletes. While their rivalry is one of exquisite quality and top sportsmanship on the tennis court, their friendship and bonding extend beyond the world of sports.

Throughout their respective careers, the trio have held the moniker of being tennis’ greatest athletes in the history of the sport and have shared many memorable moments off the court. Novak Djokovic envisions a bright future for the three, one where he can bond closely with them.

Novak Djokovic speaks on friendship with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic is currently the only active player among the Big 3, with Federer having retired and Nadal nursing an injury. In their absence, Novak has witnessed a lack of quality rivalry and has dominated the circuit throughout the season.

The big three of tennis
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – the Big 3 of tennis, via Tennis World USA

The world no. 1 believes that given that the three players have been playing together for over 15 years on the ATP tour, their bonding could lead to a lifelong friendship after their retirements.

“It’s true that we can’t be friends because, with friends, you talk about everything, the good, the bad, your secrets. With your rivals I don’t think you feel very comfortable revealing all that. In the last 15 years I have seen more of Nadal and Federer than my parents,” the 24-times Grand Slam champion said.

“That means they have been a very important part of my life and my career. I have incredible respect for them and for the rivalry we’ve had for so long. It’s been a long journey together and when we hang up our racquets, we’ll look at it in a more relaxed way,” Djokovic added.

Novak Djokovic is having a record-strewn season, with eight year-ends as world no.1 and winning the most Nitto ATP Finals titles and Paris Masters crowns. He is set to surpass Federer in yet another record that the Swiss had earned.

Novak Djokovic comes close to breaking Roger Federer’s record

After Novak Djokovic gained revenge on Jannik Sinner at the Nitto ATP Finals, he earned his 71st hard-court title. He thus equaled Federer’s record on the same front.

Novak Djokovic equaled Federer's record
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at 2011 US Open semifinal, via Youtube

The sheer dominance displayed by Federer and Djokovic is espoused by the third-placed athlete in the statistics, Andre Agassi, who has 46 hard-court titles. Jimmy Connors won 45 titles, while Pete Sampras won 43, with Djokovic surpassing these legends with ease.

Novak Djokovic recently passed 400 weeks as world no. 1, and the Serb was ecstatic with the achievement.

“It’s a pretty good achievement, 400 weeks at No. 1. It’s never been done in history. Someone will eventually break it, but hopefully it stays there for a long time,” said Djokovic.

“It always has been a huge objective and huge goal of mine to be No. 1 in the world. Other than Grand Slams, that’s what counts the most. To finish off the year as No 1 in the world at this stage of my life and career is something really amazing,” he added.

While the 2023 season is over, a quick turnover to next year’s early hardcourt season will provide Novak Djokovic with an attempt to surpass Roger Federer’s record yet again after he had done the same earlier in November.

What are your opinions on the Big 3’s relationship beyond a tennis rivalry? Let us know in the comments section below.


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