Rafa Roundup: Novak Djokovic reveals his son Stefan is a Rafael Nadal fan

Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images


Carlos Moya: “What Rafa is looking for is to be competitive and continue to evolve. It is true that over time you lose physique, speed or explosiveness, but you are smarter and handle situations better.

“I always said that Rafa is one of the most intelligent players on the court, one of those who read the games best, the one who is most suited to having a Plan B, a Plan C…

“I would tell you that he has the whole alphabet. If he sees that the rival has a crack or the smallest gap through which he can enter, he sees it, reads it and gets it.

“The (Australian Open) final is a clear example: it starts badly but then it changes, little by little. That is the adrenaline that he has inside, to see that he can still fight with the best in the world.”

Yannick Noah himself retired at 35 in 1997, the same age that Nadal is now having just won a record 21st Major title and still ranked within the ATP top 10.

“I don’t know, 35, so obviously that captures the imagination,” the Frenchman said on the Super Moscato ShowIt is extraordinary. At his age, I could no longer walk. He physically dominates the guys, I find that extraordinary,” Noah said on podcast The Super Moscato Show.

“The level of play at the end of the final, I wondered if it was not PlayStation.

“It was amazing.”

It was at a gala match in Majorca back in 2001, featuring Pat Cash (Wimbledon champion in 1987) and Boris Becker, that the future champion first stepped into the spotlight. Becker withdrew from the match due to injury. The organisers decided to replace him with the local tennis star, Rafa, who was aged 14 at the time. The Australian former champion was defeated by the young Nadal, who that day gave a glimpse of his immense potential. 

“My wife was cheering for Medvedev, my son was cheering for Nadal and every point that Rafa would make, Stefan would be jumping around.”

He added: “He asked me a few days ago when I was putting him to sleep: ‘When is the next tournament that you are going to participate and play where Rafa is going to be also?’

“I said: ‘I’m not sure, I hope very soon, why are you asking me that?’ And he said: ‘Because I would really love to take a photo with Rafa!’

“We’ll arrange that, I’m sure.”

“As for Rafael, obviously, he has also had to change things, but I think that is what all those who stay at the top for a long time do. It’s impossible to stay on top if you are not constantly reconfiguring yourself. He [Rafa] has changed, like Federer. If you can’t run as much you know you have to shorten the points. The level of Rafael’s game between 2008 and 2010 was very high. Today he has a little less physicality, as is to be expected, but his game is more complete, he now serves much better.

“Despite all that Nadal has achieved, Toni said that he would “never say of a family member that he is a genius”.

Eurosport’s Corretja said: “After he won in Australia I think Rafa is in the mood, he’s feeling so fresh and so ready to go and enter the clay-court season. He’s someone with a lot of power, a lot of confidence. I don’t think he’s going to look at Novak’s position. Because he knows that on clay he’s the toughest guy to beat.”

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  1. The BBC interview confirmed to me that Novak Djokovic doesn’t doubt the effectiveness of vaccines against Covid 19, but he is solely concerned (or obsessed) with keeping his body perfectly fined tuned and fears that a Covid vaccine might affect his performance.

    “Me as an elite professional athlete, I’ve always carefully reviewed and assessed everything….that comes into my body as a fuel that I can benefit from.
    I just don’t have enough clarity of how the Covid vaccine will affect me and whether it’s going to create a certain effect on my game and I wouldn’t have the benefits that I would normally have.”

    As I see it, Novak is living in a bubble of his own self importance (me me me ) and he’s just playing the waiting game. Thank goodness the majority of players don’t have the same attitude.

    • Thank you for the update Lorna. I couldn’t imagine what more he could add to his previous statements for his reluctance to get vaccinated against Covid-19. I forgot about the me, me, me components. LOL

  2. Haha! Discretion? What’s that in a child’s language? That’s it Stefan. Pure honesty. Don’t hold back! It’s good that Novak saw the funny side of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised If Stefan asked his father for a Rafa 21 t-shirt and posters of his tennis favourite to pin up on his bedroom wall. Now that would be something Novak wouldn’t want to see on a daily basis! 😏

  3. Honestly I was pleased that Rafa did not have to play Novak in the Aussie grand slam . I think Rafa does not play his best tennis against Nole on hard surfaces . So it was a Godsend for Rafa . I will add that the FO ’21 semis were played in the evening which also was an advantage for Novak . We know that Rafa’s best clay court game is under the sun and Novak would probably been beat easily .Rafa was 1 point away from break in the 4th set in that match and made unforced errors to cost him the match . As for Novak’s son rooting for Rafa. that is really cute and on obviously he has his own mind .
    Mom and Dad Djokovic seem to be Ok with this and I am glad they have matured with age . But the vaccine refusal is beyond my comprehension as it is the science and it prevents Nole from playing and its a giant advantage of his opponents Thank God for that !

    • Did you watch the 2020 French open final? It was played indoors under a closed roof in cold and damp conditions. Rafa’s game has evolved from 2012 and he is much better on offense especially on his serve and backhand. Moya deserves a lot of credit honestly and the way he dismantled Djokovic was a masterclass. He lost in 2021 only because of his foot injury which became worse and he basically stopped running. Don’t forget, he had a setpoint I’m set 3, missed a sitter Forehand volley in the breaker and lost six games in a row after leading 2-0 in the 4th. A fit Rafa wouldn’t have been so vulnerable though Novak deserves credit because he was fitter. Simple as that. It’s a shame really, but was really vulnerable on clay. Tsitsipas and shapovalov had match point against him. Unthinkable. Only because of his foot.

      • Yes, I have often wondered why people do not give Moya the credit he deserves, he has been onside with Rafa’s during the later stages of his tennis career, when change was needed, Toni worked with a young fit boy, who was going places with or without him, anyone that was Rafa’s coach at that time would have been the right coach. For two years Rafa went through a very tricky time everyone expected the game was over for him, Rafa was disengaging from Toni as his coach, and finally made the choice for Moya. Rafa’s recent successes and his evolution required backed by a person who has confidence in him to do what he has to do. I believe Moya’s loving support and obvious regard for Rafa’s ability to continue to adapt to the game, to continue to play at the top level he has, is in part due to Moya. Read the differences in the two articles to see who best believes in Rafa at this stage of his career. I agree about Roland Garros 2020 it appears people have forgotten that match, as they focus on the following year when he was injured. so thank you for expressing your comment. I never reply to these comments, I don’t always agree with them, but today you said what I have often thought needed saying.

  4. Just having some fun….

    Please look very carefully at that picture of Rafa and ND. Look how Rafa’s LEFT ARM appears to be squished against ND’s chest and stomach. Is ND in communication with that arm to find out more about Rafa’s lethal weapon? 😉

    It’s cute that Stefan is a Rafan and ND made sure that it wouldn’t become a “breaking news” story/headline by this preemptive revelation. Imagine a sports reporter asking Stefan who his fave tennis player is? How are ND’s fans taking this?

  5. Excellent choice there Stefan D. And for Novak to reveal this, is also very nice, if not surprising. Maybe he can be slightly forgiven for some of his arrogance. Wonder how long it will last though?

    • Nole is trying to repair his poor public image. To wit: His recent “exclusive” interview with BBC TV. “Not an anti vaxxer. Matter of principle. Willing to give up being most dominant ever for his “freedom” to choose not to vaccinate.

      • I was floored about his choice of the BBC for an “exclusive.” As if that’s going to redeem him.

  6. I remember Federer also said about his kids that the really appreciate Rafa more than Federer 😂 that said to their dad “ but daddy is not Rafa who’s No 1”

  7. Two, three or four years ago we never ever thought this would happen. Rafa on 21 and looking incredibly good to increase this, it can only be because as he says “I LOVE THE SPORT”!!!!!!!!!

  8. We were entranced when Rafa, Roger, and Novak arrived on court, and we need to savour the matches they choose to play today. Each has his unique style; we have been mesmerized by their
    magical victories on court. Stefan’s sweet innocence is reminiscent of seeing Rafa play for the first
    time-breathtaking, passionate, and fierce. Unforgettable then and today……….🙏🎾❤️

  9. I love Novak for actually saying this. Considering what happened in Australia, and his fierce rivalry with Rafa they do have a lot of mutual respect for each other, no matter whatever their differences are. As Rafa said, they have supported each other’s foundations and honestly I love their respectful rivalry, no matter what happens. While a part of me still hurts after Rafa lost the 2021 FO semis, Novak was the fitter player and deserved to win, Rafa’s foot injury aside despite which he has still won 21 slams.

  10. Witnessed this scenario all the time in sport, a star’s child – son or daughter barracks/roots for another star, and not their Dad.

    Children are so pure and guileless.

    • Very true, its cine field, children of particular star mostly a fan of another big star who is a rival to their Dad professionally.

      • Faith and believing does make things happen! So never stop believing! You are the best RAFA!! I admire you a lot!!👌 Keep it up and do not give up as I keep Praying for you! May God bless you with more WINNERS to come!!!🙏😘

  11. Love that Djokovic’s son loves Rafa. In a child’s eyes there’s no politics or rivalry they just like what they see and there’s nothing not to like about Rafa. Interesting that his wife was cheering for Medvedev 😂

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