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Frances Tiafoe believes Djokovic is on the brink of achieving "something crazy", says Rafael Nadal playing Citi Open is "pretty legendary"

Novak Djokovic (L) and Frances Tiafoe
Novak Djokovic (L) and Frances Tiafoe
Namit Kumar
ANALYST

American France Tiafoe recently spoke on a number of topics, including Novak Djokovic's record-breaking season and Rafael Nadal's participation in the Citi Open in Washington.

Djokovic is vying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Majors in a single year. The Serb has triumphed at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon this year and needs to win the US Open to complete the astonishing Calendar Grand Slam.

Winning the US Open would also move Djokovic past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's tally of 20 Grand Slam titles, having drawn level at Wimbledon.

In that context, Frances Tiafoe, who pushed Djokovic to four sets at the Australian Open this year, was recently asked to weigh in on the World No. 1's achievements.

Speaking before the start of his Citi Open campaign, Tiafoe described Djokovic as a "special player." According to the American, Djokovic's mental fortitude is one of the reasons behind his success.

"The guy's special, man. He (Novak Djokovic) can play on all surfaces, he's moving so well, his serve has gotten a lot better. Mentally, just the toughest in the world. Not necessarily he has the best forehand, backhand or whatever, just mentally he's so, so good," Tiafoe told the ATP Tour.

Tiafoe further went on to state that Djokovic has "always got an answer" for anything his opponent throws at him. The American then claimed he would like to be the one to end the Serb's dominance.

"As you raise your level, he's going to keep raising it, keep raising it, really make you beat him. He goes to a place that people just don't quite want to go to it seems like. He's always got an answer for you. He's on the brink of achieving something crazy special," Tiafoe said.
"As much as I love seeing greatness, I'd like it to stop, someone else win, preferably me. We'll see how it goes in the end," he added.

Djokovic's hopes of winning the Calendar Golden Slam were dashed when he was defeated by Alexander Zverev in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics. The Serb then went on to lose the bronze-medal match against Pablo Carreno Busta, meaning he departed Tokyo empty-handed.

After his loss to Carreno Busta, Djokovic revealed he was playing through multiple injuries and was unsure if he would fully recover ahead of the US Open. As things stand, he is due to defend his title in Cincinnati before heading to Flushing Meadows for the final Slam of the year.

"It is unbelievable that Rafael Nadal came here to DC" - Frances Tiafoe

Frances Tiafoe (L) and Rafael Nadal
Frances Tiafoe (L) and Rafael Nadal

During the conversation, Frances Tiafoe also spoke about what it meant to have 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal participating in the Citi Open. The Spaniard has never played in Washington before, often choosing to begin his American hardcourt season at the Rogers Cup in Canada.

But this year, having missed nearly two months of action following the French Open, Nadal will launch his US Open preparations at the Citi Open.

Tiafoe said having a player of Nadal's stature competing in his hometown of Washington is "pretty legendary."

"It's just unbelievable that he (Rafael Nadal) came here to D.C," Tiafoe said. "Having a player of his calibre here is pretty legendary. This tournament's big. For guys around the area, to see pro players, this is the real thing."
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Nadal will launch his Citi Open campaign against Jack Sock, while Tiafoe will face Jenson Brooksby.

Nadal and Tiafoe have been drawn in opposite sections, meaning they can only face each other in the final.


Edited by Arvind Sriram

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