Novak Djokovic reveals when ‘the energy shifted’ in his relationship with Rafael Nadal

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Pre-match Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic has suggested that the “energy shifted” in his relationship with Rafael Nadal when he started winning matches against his great rival.

Djokovic feels that Nadal had no issues with his impersonations of the Spaniard “while he was kicking my ass”, but this changed when he started beating him.

Early in his career, the Serbian entertained crowds with his impressions of players including Nadal, Maria Sharapova and John McEnroe.

The ‘Djoker’s’ imitations became far less frequent, though, with some players apparently not a fan of them. Nadal revealed he was not an admirer of the impersonations when asked about it in 2008.

“I think this is not a show, no? I think this is a sport. Everyone can do what they want. My opinion, the show or the star is the tennis,” said the Spaniard in a press conference.

“It’s not the imitation of no one. So I think if the people wants to watch tennis, it’s because the tennis is world sport and they want to watch the tennis, no, the matches, not the imitation.”

During a practice session ahead of the 2023 US Open, though, the Serbian imitated several current and former players to the delight of the New York crowd.

READ MORE: WATCH: Novak Djokovic the impersonator is back as Nick Kyrgios doffs his hat to the Djoker

In an interview with tennis legend John McEnroe for ESPN, Djokovic discussed doing impressions of his rival Nadal early in his career.

“While he was actually kicking my ass [in the] first few years of my professional career, he was okay with that. But when I started winning a few matches, then I felt like the energy shifted a bit,” said the Serbian.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion also asserted that the tennis ‘GOAT’ debate involving him, Nadal and Roger Federer is a positive for the sport.

“This whole GOAT debate, I think it’s great for our sport. Because at the end of the day, we want more attention towards tennis,” assessed the 36-year-old.

“Each one of us has something different to bring to the table, you know what I mean. So I think there’s always going to be people that will like you, identify themselves with you, get inspired by you. And there’s people that are not gonna like you.”

Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion McEnroe gave the world No 1 his backing in the debate.

“It’s not easy to get the better of Novak Djokovic. If you ever do, the ‘Djoker’ always finds a way to punch back. That’s why he is the most resilient player I know. Novak isn’t just the best, I think he’s proven he’s the best of all time,” argued the American.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal will only return if he feels he can win claims tennis icon

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