World No.1 Novak Djokovic has hit back at Rafael Nadal‘s spicy comments on his perceived ‘obsession’ over tennis records.
Nadal and Djokovic are in a race, along with Roger Federer, to see who will end their career with the most Grand Slam titles.
‘HUGE CONFIDENCE’: Aussie gun Astra Sharma’s stunning WTA first
The debate has heated up with Nadal equalling Federer’s record on 20 Grand Slams, and Novak Djokovic edging closer after his 18th title at the Australian Open this year.
Last year, Djokovic said if his main goal was to end up with the most Grand Slams, if he were to surpass Federer’s record of most weeks at World No.1.
Djokovic has since claimed that record.
But when asked about the situation, Nadal said the World No.1 is more “obsessed” about the records than him.
“Of course, I want to win more Slams, yes,” Nadal told the Metro.
“No doubt about that. But I never get – I mean, Novak is more obsessed about this, more focussed…not in a negative way. No, he’s more focused on just these things and it means a lot to him all of this stuff.
“Like he’s always saying and talking about these records and well done for him… but it’s not my approach to my tennis career.”
Djokovic hits back at Nadal over comments
But Djokovic denied Nadal’s comments and said there wasn’t an “obsession”, just a passion.
“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,” Djokovic said ahead of the Belgrade Open.
“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, in Belgrade, is set to hold the Serbia Open tournament less than a year after the event ended in chaos during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, Djokovic helped host the Adria Tour during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was held in front of thousands of fans with no social distancing and ended in chaos.
But this year, the tournament organised by the 33-year-old’s family with his younger brother Djordje acting as director, will be played with strict Covid-19 protocols.
Watch ‘Mind Games’, the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.