Novak Djokovic has opened up about a range of issues involving Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, most notably the ‘awkward’ nature of sharing a locker room with them.
Djokovic on Tuesday said he doesn’t feel antagonised by lack of fan support when facing his biggest rivals in major finals on the ATP Tour.
‘DISGRACEFUL’: Djokovic video puts Australian Open fans to shame
Tennis pundits have often suggested that Djokovic gets infuriated as well as galvanised by overwhelming support for Federer and Nadal when he locks horns with them, but the 32-year-old from Belgrade offered a different view.
“I've read a lot of stuff suggesting that I am disliked but I really don't have that impression, especially off-court,” Djokovic told a news conference at his tennis academy in the Serbian capital.
“Even if that was true, why would I want to add fuel to the fire?
“I don't want to stir up negative emotions. I have no ill feelings for people who don't support me. Having said that, I am not proud of my occasional reactions on the court as my passion gets the better of my self-control at times.
“I will always admit that I do make mistakes and I always try to learn from them. You reap what you sow and it is never my intention to generate bad energy.”
However the press conference took a bizarre turn when Djokovic was asked if it was awkward sharing a locker room with his fierce rivals.
“We mostly avoid each other,” Djokovic said.
“Locker rooms aren’t that big everywhere, so we sometimes hide behind our lockers or something like that.
“Sometimes we take shower cabins next to each other, but we don’t look.
“It’s a bit uncomfortable, we are in awkward situations there with our team, huge emotions are on the line.”
Djokovic on sharing the locker room with Nadal and Federer in big matches 👇 pic.twitter.com/F9Fnq9ods2— Saša Ozmo (@ozmo_sasa) February 18, 2020
Djokovic admits lack of support at times
Djokovic conceded that there were places where he has less support than in others.
“It is a fact that most fans support Federer and Nadal against me but that's due to what they represent in world tennis,” he added.
“It doesn't mean that fans hate me and it certainly doesn't mean that I need to turn Serbia against the rest of the world just because fewer people support me in grand slam finals.”
Djokovic won his 17th overall major honour last month at his favourite hunting ground in Melbourne, where he captured his eighth Australian Open title amid vocal support from local Serb expatriates.
The atmosphere was in stark contrast to last year's Wimbledon final, where Djokovic forced Federer into submission after five dramatic sets despite raucous fan support for the Swiss maestro, who has won a record 20 grand slam titles.
Djokovic revealed how he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the face of adversity.
“When they chanted 'Roger, Roger' I willed myself into believing they were chanting 'Novak, Novak',” he said.
“Sometimes it does give me an impetus. But honestly, I do prefer having the crowd on my side.
“Where would you rather be, in a place where 10,000 fans are with you or against you?”