Novak Djokovic is having one of the seasons of his life, one that contests closely with 2010 for the title of his best. With three grand slam trophies and three ATP titles under his belt, Novak has already proven too hot for competitors to handle. Despite being a senior on the circuit, Novak has defied age barriers by winning against youngsters.
Novak’s dominance and success began as early as 2008, and his budding rivalry with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal back then was a sight to watch. In fact, Nadal said a few words that had ominous resonance after one of their matches, and Djokovic would fulfill them in the years to come.
Rafael Nadal’s 2008 remark on Djokovic’s rise
Novak Djokovic sprung onto the scene in 2008, when he announced his arrival on the big stage with wins against top opponents. His ‘Big 3’ rivals were already a few years ahead of him, but that didn’t stop the Serb from stamping his authority on the sporting stage.
In an interview with Kurir, former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic recalled a shocking prediction and remark that Nadal made about Novak Djokovic. She revealed how Nadal spoke to her about Djokovic’s physicality and mentality.
The Spaniard was left in awe of Novak Djokovic’s prowess and said that he feared if he would cope with injuries. He felt a fully able body was needed to last in the sport in the long run.
“Honestly, we didn’t think it would last that long. What is really fascinating to me is how he manages to keep his body fit and healthy. It’s a hard sport, it has a big impact on the body, we can see it from Roger and Rafa. I remember Rafa telling me in 2008, ‘I don’t know how long I will last’, and here is Novak, fighting. The fact that Novak is so strong and healthy is really fascinating to me, kudos to him,” Ivanovic said.
The Novak-Rafa rivalry began in the mid-2000s and sparked a stupendous contest between the two that would last a total of 59 matches across a decade and a half.
When did Djokovic win for the first time against Nadal?
Novak Djokovic first faced Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the 2006 Roland Garros, where Nadal triumphed in straight sets. Nadal would go on to win their next encounter at the Indian Wells Open. However, Djokovic made a comeback and secured a victory over the Spaniard at the ATP Masters 1000 Miami Open.
The meeting would showcase Novak Djokovic’s dominance on the hardcourt surface and he won 6-3, 6-4 against an established Nadal. This would springboard either player to bigger successes and the pair would meet 56 more times through the years, with Djokovic leading 30-29 in their head-to-head records.
“Nadal is my biggest rival. As long as he is playing, as long as I am playing, no one else can be chosen,” Djokovic quipped in an interview with TennisTV.
Novak Djokovic also shared his opinion and expectations on Nadal’s imminent comeback from injury, saying it would be nice to play “one last match” together with the Spaniard.
What are your opinions on Djokovic’s rise and incredible physical stamina? Let us know in the comments section below.