The Sunday Mail
Rafael Nadal says his friendly relationship with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic is essential to show a good example to youngsters.
As a trio, Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have won 52 of the past 60 major men’s singles titles.
It has been an unprecedented level of dominance but despite their ultra-competitive rivalry, there has been little animosity between them.
They have all taken time to discuss the impact their rivalry has had in inspiring them to greater heights.
And the warmth they share for each other has been evidenced on and off the court.
With Federer closest to the finishing line, he has spoken of being resigned to Nadal and Djokovic eventually surpassing his record and making peace with the outcome.
Speaking in an interview in Kuwait where he opened up the Rafa Nadal Academy, Nadal was asked for his assessment on the relationship he shares with Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray.
And the Spaniard admitted age has allowed them to understand each other better and be role models.
“This is like everything in life — one has more affinity with some than with others. Not me: everyone,” Nadal told Spanish agency EFE.
“But I have been fortunate throughout my career that in every tournament or event I get to the locker room, I see my teammates; and few problems I have looked for. I have never had the feeling of not wanting to see one; or not wanting to see another.
“I arrive at the locker room, I see colleagues with whom we share many things, week after week; and it makes me happy to be able to greet you, to be able to share opinions . . . and the reality of moments we live together. Over the years, even more.
“When you are younger, it is true that you take rivalry and competitiveness to the extreme.
“When you are a little older, the dream to win and get things is the same and luckily, among us, the relationship is and, in most of the time we have shared on the circuit, it has been good.
“With both Novak and Roger, as with Andy. With all of us who have had a more ‘lively’ rivalry, if you can say so. Now it’s more latent and the things we do show it.
“Novak was now with me in Kazakhstan, at the end of the year, making an exhibition for my foundation. I was in Milan two years ago playing for his.
“Now I’m going to South Africa to play an exhibition for Roger’s foundation and the reality is that I am delighted.
“Federer was at the opening of my Academy in Manacor and the truth is that we understand that it is essential to help us and maintain a positive relationship that I think helps our sport and transmit values that are good for young people.” — AFP.