Rafael Nadal on Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – “After We Retire We Will Still Have a Great Relationship”

Published 01/04/2020, 9:29 AM EST

The world outside terms three unprecedented men of the sport, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic as rivals. They are seen battling against each other for prestigious titles. A major part of the world is unaware of their close association.  However, their relationship goes beyond the professional courts. It’s simply admirable to see with all three of them helping each other out whenever in need.

The rivalry between Federer and Nadal started back in 2005 on Miami’s court. The teenager Rafa defeated World Number one Roger in the US. Also with the Spaniard winning his first French Open on his debut in the tournament, heated up rivalry between the two. But little does the world know, with the advent of their rivalry it also gave rise to a priceless friendship. 

“Tennis is still a sport” – Rafael Nadal 


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“It is true that with Federer I have lived more moments and spent more time with him than with Djokovic. I have good relations with both and I think we have achieved that amongst us,” Rafael Nadal told Ultima Hora.

The Big Three

‘Big Three’ persevere to their fullest on professional courts. Irrespective of their result of the match, they instantly realize tennis is just a sport. 

“I think, that’s better because we have to face each other and compete for things that matter the most to us. But in the end, tennis is still a sport. I think both of them and I understand that. And try to hold on to it, which is why we are able to have a good relationship,” Nadal added.

“As the days pass the relationship is getting better and better” -Nadal

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Federer and Nadal help each other to promote their other ventures besides their professional careers. Nadal plays exhibition matches against Federer to raise funds for Federer’s foundation. Also, Roger was the guest of honor at the inauguration ceremony of Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca, Spain. 

Know More – Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy – The Dream School of Tennis

In 2019 Nadal had just won the US Open and he was dealing with an inflamed wrist. Instead of taking rest Rafa opted to feature at Federer’s Laver Cup and he risked an injury for his longtime friend and foe.

Rafa also shares a pleasing relationship with Novak. In October 2019 both of them played an exhibition in Kazakhstan which raised funds for Nadal’s foundation. Nadal also reciprocated for the same and featured at an exhibition event in Milan for Djokovic’s foundation. In a nutshell, all three of them share a fruitful relationship with each other.

“With Federer, we were talking over the phone three days ago, our relationship is easier. We are going to South Africa in February for an exhibition match for his foundation. And then with Djokovic, we went to Kazakhstan for my foundation and I was in Milan for his. We try to help each other which is very logical. And as the days pass it’s getting better and better,” Nadal continued.


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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal

See More – WATCH: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal Do a Funny Dance in Kazakhstan

I could see how our relationships go beyond our sporting careers” – Rafa


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Nadal is pleased to share the era of tennis with Federer and Djokovic. The Spaniard is sure that their friendship will be alive once they hang their tennis racquets. “We learned to live through this in an easier way and that’s when I could see how our relationships go beyond our sporting careers. I can assure now that after we retire we will still have a great relationship,” Nadal concluded.

In his first match of 2020, Rafael Nadal won 6-3, 7-5 against Nikoloz Basilashvili in one hour and 50 minutes at ATP Cup in Perth.



Mahalakshmi Murali

1909 articles

Mahalakshmi Murali joined EssentiallySports in 2018 as a tennis author and has gone on to pen more than 1800 engaging articles, probing into various aspects of the sport and its illustrious players. With her expertise on the sport, Mahalakshmi has interviewed stalwarts from the sport such as Serena WIlliams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou and Kevin Anderson’s physio, Carlos Costa. Equipped with her vast experience and a keen understanding of the sport, Mahalakshmi now co-heads the tennis department.