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Djokovic's dad: “Rafa stopped being friends with Novak when my son started beating him”
Rafa Nadal counters that he and the world number one are 'still great mates' and 'would immediately talk about any misunderstandings'
WORLD tennis number one Novak Djokovic's father has criticised Spain's Rafa Nadal, saying: “He and my son were best friends when Rafa was beating him, but it's a different story now.”
Rafa, however, denies this and says he and the Serb (pictured) remain great buddies and that if there was 'a problem' between them, they would 'call each other and talk about it'.
Srdjan Djokovic, whose son Novak is currently at the top of the global ATP rankings, says Mallorca-born Rafa 'was Novak's 'best friend while he was beating him', but adds: “When things changed, they were no longer friends. That's not sportsmanship.”
Srdjan also took a swipe at former ATP number one, Switzerland's Roger Federer, during his interview with Serbian newspaper Kurir.
“His talent as a tennis-player does not coincide with his qualities as a human being. He might still be the best player in history, but as a person, he is completely the opposite,” says Mr Djokovic senior, adding that the Swiss star 'attacked' Novak during the Davis Cup in Geneva since Federer 'understood that he was the successor and attempted to discredit Novak in any way he could'.
“Novak's success is something extraordinary, and it's something that some of the others cannot understand,” lamented Srdjan.
But he was quick to praise his son's sportsmanship with his fellow players.
“There's no other sportsman who treats his rivals so well, whether he wins or loses – Novak is the only one who does this, both in his sport and in his private life,” Srdjan insists.
Spectators of the epic Wimbledon final this year, which saw Scotsman Andy Murray become the first Brit to win since 1977 and the first UK citizen to win the men's title in 77 years, were sceptical of this when the Serb exhausted his quota of objections within a very short time – and then still tried to carry on objecting – but their faith in Djokovic's sportsmanship was restored when his speech at the end was televised and his delight for Murray was very clear and genuine.
And Novak's father admits his son has a good relationship with the Scot, whom he calls a 'true example of sporting nature' and a person who 'is a good loser and a good winner'.
“Obviously, they cannot be the best of friends because they are fighting for the most important trophies and, at the end of the day, an awful lot of money. But they are very correct in their behaviour as rivals and I'm sure that once their careers are over, they will be great friends,” Srdjan stated.
Rafa Nadal: “Mr Djokovic Senior should talk to his son”
As for the 'man from Manacor' and former world champion, who lost his slot to Djokovic after the 2011 season and missed the latter half of last year's due to injury, Rafa insists the ATP number one's father is mistaken.
“Novak's father really ought to talk to his son. My relationship with Novak has always been very good and continues to be so. I've lost countless matches against him, and he's lost countless matches against me, and neither of us has ever had a problem with that,” Rafa (pictured above right) stated categorically when questioned.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; I'm not here to contest that and least of all, not having heard or read these comments,” adds the Mallorca-born ace, just after having played the opening serve as a symbolic act at a match between various friends in his native Manacor.
“But if ever there was a problem or misunderstanding between me and Novak, we'd have no qualms about calling each other up to talk about it.”
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