Novak Djokovic left out of Federer and Nadal friendship – Not the same admiration

Daniil Medvedev reacts to US Open win over Novak Djokovic

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Novak Djokovic finally has a friendship with “mutual respect” after striking up a good relationship with rival Daniil Medvedev, according to Greg Rusedski. The former British No 1 said he thought the Serb “got on” with long-time rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but wasn’t as close with them.

Djokovic is currently competing in the final event of the season – the Nitto ATP Finals.

The world No 1 has already secured his spot in Saturday’s (November 20) semi-final and cemented his place as the winner of the Green Group following victories over Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev.

He is on course to face his biggest rival of the season, world No 2 Daniil Medvedev, in Sunday’s (November 21) final.

If they were to meet in the championship match, it would mean Djokovic and Medvedev had played every big hard court final this year – the Australian Open, US Open and ATP Finals.

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The world’s No 1 and 2 have enjoyed a tight rivalry this year, as the Serb defeated the 25-year-old in straight sets back in February, in the Australian Open final.

It was then Medvedev who denied the world No 1 the chance to make history at the US Open, securing a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory in the final to lift his maiden Grand Slam title, meaning Djokovic fell one match short of a record 21st Major and the Calendar Grand Slam.

They also faced off in the recent Paris Masters final, with the 34-year-old coming from a set down to get revenge over the Russian and win a record 37th Masters 1000 title.

Between their heated competition in 2021, the pair have struck up a friendship and spent time practicing together ahead of the tournament in Paris-Bercy earlier this month.

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While the those including Mats Wilander haven’t been in favour of their friendship, saying it could be costly for Medvedev and admitting he wanted to see fireworks between the two, a former world No 4 admitted he thought the pair “really get on”.

Speaking exclusively to Express Sport, Greg Rusedski admitted that, while Djokovic has always been friendly with his Big Three rivals Federer and Nadal, he hadn’t been part of their “really good” friendship.

“We’re very politically and corporately correct so I think Nadal and Federer are basically really good mates, they get along with Novak but it’s not the same sort of admiration for each other,” the 1997 US Open finalist admitted.

In contrast, he thought Djokovic and Medvedev had a better bond and more respect for one another, with the Russian even admitting during his US Open victory speech that he thought the world No 1 was the greatest of all time.

Speaking on court as he accepted his first-ever Grand Slam trophy back in September, Medvedev told his opponent: “I have never said this to anybody but I will say it right now. For me you are the greatest player in the history.”

Former British No 1 Rusedski thought the friendship between the top two players went back to the days before Medvedev had his breakthrough, though admitted things would be tough as the pair continued their rivalry.

He continued: “With Medvedev, I think Medvedev and Djokovic really get on because they practiced together when Daniil wasn’t really a big name and the world No 2 so they have a lot of mutual respect. But when you start losing to somebody consistently or beating someone, you’ll have the friendship but it gets a little bit more difficult.”

The former-pro-turned-pundit also thought the top two seeds would meet in the final match of the season on Sunday, saying: “I think the No 1 and No 2 players in the world are on a crash course in the ATP Finals with Djokovic being the favourite but Medvedev is the guy who really looks like the biggest threat to take his crown away from him next year.”

Rusedski claimed that the world No 1 would also need to ensure he won a potential clash with Medvedev in order to cement his dominance for the 2022 season, or it could be threatened by the US Open champion.

The ATP Finals can be watched exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in the UK at no extra cost to Prime members from 14 Nov to 21 Nov.

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