Novak Djokovic: ‘I respect Rafael Nadal more than any other player, but I’m not obsessed with anything’

Novak Djokovic has responded to the claims of Rafael Nadal that he is ‘obsessed’ with breaking records, saying he sees nothing wrong in verbalising his goals. 

Speaking ahead of the Barcelona Open, Nadal said he believed world number one Djokovic was far more ‘obsessed’ with achieving the Grand Slam record than he is.

However, Djokovic, who is playing in Belgrade this week, says his rival is very much wide of the mark in his assessment.

“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 verbalising 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 that would 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.”

Djokovic was then asked if he thinks his source of motivation is different to that of Nadal’s, but he said he only felt able to comment on his own.

“It is all a matter of perception and interpretation of what one says,” he said. “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 practising 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.”

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