5 endearing moments between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

5 endearing moments between tennis GOATs Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Over the years, tennis fans have enjoyed watching one of the greatest sporting rivalries unfold between Spain's Rafael Nadal and Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

The pair have faced off against each other for a total of 59 times across various tournaments, giving fans some of the best tennis matches ever played. The pair have been neck-to-neck in the Grand Slam race and are now tied with 22 Grand Slams each after Djokovic's triumph at this year's Australian Open.


However, the on-court rivalry has not stopped the sporting legends from sharing light-hearted and endearing moments, which have allowed the fans to see them in a refreshing new light.

Take a look at five endearing moments between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

#1 Djokovic impersonating Nadal at the 2009 Italian Open


At the 2009 Rome Masters, Nadal beat Djokovic 7-6(2), 6-2. Despite the loss, Djokovic was all game to imitate Nadal's signature style during the trophy ceremony.

He shortened his sleeves and adjusted his shorts and socks. He then proceeded to pretend to clear the court's white line, which gets slightly covered due to the clay, something the 14-time French Open winner often does during his clay court matches.

He then adjusted his undershorts, which has become one of Nadal's most famous on-court rituals. The Serb then took Nadal's receiving stance as well. The entire ordeal had the crowd in splits and the Spaniard high-fived him as well.

#2 Nadal shows Djokovic the finger during the Rally for Relief exhibition match


The Australian Open and Tennis Australia organized the Rally for Relief at Melbourne Park in 2020, following the heartbreaking bushfires that plagued Australia from June 2019-May 2020.

Djokovic and Nadal were on Team (Caroline) Wozniacki while the other team was led by Serena Williams. The duo teamed up for a doubles match and took on Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

During the first set, the Spanish star, who was at the net, showed Djokovic his middle finger instead of telling him where to position himself on the court during the play. The camera caught the action and Djokovic took notice.

The Serb sarcastically said:

"Don't worry I didn't see it on the big screen," he said.
"Can the camera show Rafa's finger where he told me I should go," he continuted.

#3 Djokovic calls Rafa, himself and Roger 'next-gen' at the 2021 Italian Open

Djokovic suffered another clay-court final loss at the hands of Nadal during the 2021 Italian Open final. Djokovic went down 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 against the Spaniard.

Despite the loss, Djokovic took the opportunity to create a lighter moment during his runner-up speech. By 2021, the 22-time Grand Slam champions had become veterans and were being asked about the newer generation of players who could take them out.

Till date, the legendary duo have not stopped dominating the tour. So, in his speech, Djokovic decided to poke fun at the question and referred to himself, Nadal and Federer as 'next-gen' players as he gave the speech in Italian.

"We are reinventing the Next Gen. Rafa, myself and Roger, we are the Next Gen," the Serb said in his speech.

#4 Nadal and Djokovic's practice session during the 2019 Rolex Paris Masters

The legendary duo would have everyone believe that their techniques and insights during the practice matches would be a trade secret. It was during the practice sessions that the players became aware of their Achilles heel.

However, this has not stopped this titanic duo from practicing with each other and discussing their game.

In a video released by the Rolex Paris Masters, the former and current World No. 1 can be seen greeting each other like long-time friends and going on to practice with each other for the upcoming matches. In between practice, their teams and the players can be seen relaxing and engaging in conversation.

#5 Djokovic coaching Nadal and Federer during the 2022 Laver Cup

The 2022 Laver cup saw the Big 3 on one team, Team Europe. The doubles match had the Swiss Maestro and the Spanish Bull on one team as they played against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe in Federer's farewell match.

During the first set, Federer and Nadal were 5-4 up and the trio can be seen discussing tactics to overcome their opponents.

Nole can be seen advising the playing pair to change their tactics and hit the ball to Sock as he was more tense.

"I don't know what you guys feel but maybe but next few shots when Tiafie is at the back maybe change to Jack because he is a lot more tense"

Nadal could be seen confirming the play,

"To make that shot to Jack you said?"

Djokovic replied,

"To Frances, now he is serving, when he is in the back, make him (Sock) play, make him play

The exchange was a rare sight for tennis fans across the world.

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Edited by
Advait Gangoli
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