NOVAK DJOKOVIC “can’t be friends” with Rafael Nadal due to the intensity of their tennis rivalry, he admitted in a throwback interview.
Nadal overcame Matteo Berrettini in four sets to set up the Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev. The Spaniard is just one win away from overtaking rivals Roger Federer and Djokovic by securing a record breaking 21st Grand Slam. Djokovic, who has won the last three Australian Opens, had been hotly tipped to break the Grand Slam record but the Serbian was dramatically deported from Australia on public interest grounds.
The world No 1, who is unvaccinated from Covid, had been granted a controversial vaccine exception before the tournament.
Yet upon arrival into Australia the Serbian was held by border force officials, before being subsequently deported from the country on the eve of the tournament.
Djokovic’s absence has left the door open for Nadal, who months ago had considered retirement, to claim the record-breaking Grand Slam.
Though they have travelled the world competing against one another for years, Djokovic once revealed that it was difficult for the tennis stars to be friends, due to the intensity of their rivalry.
In a 2011 Daily Mail interview, Djokovic was full of praise for his rivals, saying: “I have only nice words to say about Rafa.
“He always wants to improve and you never see him disrespect another player.
“And Roger, well the results say everything.