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Novak Djokovic Hails Rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Italian Open 2020

Novak Djokovic Hails Rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Italian Open 2020

World No.1 Novak Djokovic is a win away from reaching the finals of the Italian Open 2020. Djokovic defeated the German Dominik Koepfer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, and is chasing a record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 title. The 17-time Grand Slam champion tied his arch-rival Rafael Nadal‘s tally of 35 after winning the Western and Southern Open 2020 last month.

During the post-match conference, Djokovic was asked about the significance of the Grand Slam race. With the French Open starting in two weeks, the journalist asked Djokovic about the possibility of Nadal equalling Roger Federer‘s record. Djokovic emphasized on his two supreme goals and talked about the distinct journey of each player in the Big-3.

“Of course, in our sport, winning most grand slams and being No.1 for as long as possible are the two biggest professional goals. I think Roger and Rafa will agree with that. We all have our own journeys and our own trajectories and careers that are unique and specific,” said Djokovic during the post-match interview.

Rafael Nadal at Italian Open 2020
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his quarter final match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman Pool via REUTERS/Clive Brunskill

Furthermore, Djokovic hailed Nadal and Federer as great champions and expressed his gratitude for being part of this amazing era.

“I think this is definitely one of the best eras of tennis. I am grateful to be part of such era with these two guys. They are incredible champions on and off the court,” added Djokovic.

After getting disqualified from the US Open 2020, the Serbian will look to win his 18th Grand Slam at Roland Garros. Djokovic hasn’t reached the French Open final since 2016, when he defeated Andy Murray and completed a Career Grand Slam.

Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open semifinal

Novak Djokovic at Italian Open 2020
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his quarter final match against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer Pool via REUTERS/Angelo Carconi

The No.1 seed will face Casper Ruud at the penultimate stage.  This will be the duo’s first-ever meeting and the head-to-head stands at 0-0.  Ruud defeated Matteo Berrettini in straight sets in the quarterfinals and ousted Marin Cilic in the round-of-16.

Meanwhile, the defending champion Nadal got eliminated after losing to Diego Schwartzman in straight sets.

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