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Tennis: Novak Djokovic confident he will claim Grand Slam, world No. 1 record

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LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Novak Djokovic believes he will win the most Grand Slam titles and become the longest-reigning world No. 1 by the time he retires, the 32-year-old Serb said in an interview.

The current No. 1 has 17 Grand Slam titles to his name – two behind Rafael Nadal and three fewer than Roger Federer – and said he has no doubt in his ability to overtake the other members of the so-called ‘Big Three.’

“I’m always very confident in myself,” he said in an interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger. “I believe I can win the most slams and break the record for longest number one. Those are definitely my clear goals.”

Djokovic was in imperious form before the coronavirus pandemic brought the circuit to a halt in early March.

He lifted the ATP Cup with Serbia, won an eighth Australian Open title and then completed a fifth triumph at the Dubai Tennis Championships, extending his unbeaten run to 21.

Swiss great Federer also owns the record for total number of weeks at No. 1, with 310, and consecutive weeks at the top position, with 237, compared with Djokovic’s 282 and 122.

Federer turns 39 in August and Djokovic said he could envision himself still playing at 40.

“I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are only illusions of your ego or your mind,” he said.

It wasn’t too long ago that Djokovic had an entirely different outlook on the game.

After falling in straight sets to unseeded Benoit Paire at the Miami Open in 2018, his wife, Jelena, said he was ready to hang up the racquet.

“He said to me that he’s quitting and that’s the truth,” she said in the interview. “He lost in Miami. It was a terrible loss. And then he just, you know, gathered all of us and said, ‘You know guys, I’m done.'”

“And I was like, ‘What?’ And he goes like, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Edoardo, you can speak with my sponsors. I want to be clear with them. I don’t know if I’m stopping for six months, a year or forever.'”

Djokovic did not go through with his retirement plans and bounced back to triumph at Wimbledon that July.

In the wide-ranging interview, Djokovic also discussed past struggles with his health, his marriage and surviving the bombings in his native Serbia in 1999.

The full interview will air in the US this weekend on local affiliates, and on international and regional sports networks next week.

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“Good Person”: Rafael Nadal Opens up on His Relationship With Rival Novak Djokovic

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Many tennis fans wonder how Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic get along outside the tennis court. Their conduct towards each other on the tennis court is always respectful, and that translates outside the court as well, as admitted by Nadal. The Spaniard spoke about his relationship with Djokovic, whom he called a good person.

“I have a good relationship with him. Is a good person. We must relativize things between us,”  Nadal said, in a recent interview, throwing light on his camaraderie with Djokovic.

There was also speculation among fans as to what Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic spoke about at the end of their French Open 2020 final. Interestingly, it was one of the most one-sided battles they have played over the years. However, Nadal said that Djokovic, with whom he shares a strong relationship, simply congratulated him and nothing more.

Rafael Nadal understands why Novak Djokovic did not say much

I could not talk to him. He congratulated me on the track and that’s it. It is normal,” Nadal said. He said he understands that Djokovic was not in a mood to talk, as no one usually is, after a heartbreaking loss.

When you lose a game like that, you don’t really want to talk. I understand it,” Nadal added.

Nadal avenged his one-sided loss in the 2019 Australian Open final against Djokovic. The two men also shared a respectful exchange during the trophy ceremony post their match. Nadal lauded Djokovic and said he hopes to keep facing him, further adding to their already great rivalry.

What you’re doing in tennis is very very special. Hope to keep facing you [Djokovic] on the court for the next couple of years,” Nadal said to Djokovic.

The mutual respect between the two stars

Despite not having a conversation with Nadal after the match, Djokovic spoke highly of Nadal in his post-match presser. Djokovic highlighted why Nadal is a great champion. He also admitted that it was one of those days where Nadal was simply the better player and there was not much he could do to tame the ‘King of Clay’.

I was also thinking that these conditions are more favorable to me. I was feeling great throughout the tournament playing. […] But, yeah, I mean, Rafa has proven everybody wrong. That’s why he’s a great champion. He just played a fantastic match today,” he said.

The two champions are expected to resume their rivalry at the ATP Finals next month. While they will not face each other in the Round Robin stage, the anticipation of another Nadal-Djokovic final is already running high.

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