Novak Djokovic cools talk of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal rift

Mar 20, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; (L-R) Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Serena Williams of the United States, and Roger Federer of Switzerland listen during a ribbon cutting ceremony on new stadium court at Hard Rock Stadium prior to play in the first round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Djokovic played down talk of a rift with Federer and Nadal (Picture: USA TODAY Sports)

Novak Djokovic has played down talk of a rift between himself and great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after his role in Chris Kermode’s removal as ATP president.

The Serb – the president of the player council – was part of a group of players keen for Kermode’s term as men’s tennis chief to come to an end and ultimately got his wish as the player representatives on the ATP board unanimously voted him out.

Federer was critical of Djokovic failing to meet him ahead of the vote, saying it was ‘hard to understand’ why the 15-time Grand Slam champion would not make time for him, while Nadal was openly critical of the decision to oust Kermode and expressed his frustration that no one had reached out to him to garner his opinion.



But while Djokovic has been the target of much criticism, the 31-year-old insists his relationship with the pair remains ‘good’.

‘I have not noticed anything from their side or from mine,’ Djokovic said at the Miami Open.

Nadal has been critical of Djokovic (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s not necessary for people to create any tensions or divisions between us. On the contrary, I have a good relationship with both of them. We always respected each other. We are rivals of course so it’s hard to be friends.

‘We need an open dialogue and for people to have different opinions. That’s what a democratic society is. We all try and be part of that.’

Nadal, 32, and Federer, 37, both met at Indian Wells to discuss tennis’ political landscape and Federer suggested he would take a more active role with the sport heading toward an uncertain period.

And council president Djokovic encouraged them to get involved in whatever capacity they see fit.

‘We welcome them as well as anyone else who wants to join the political discussions,’ the Serb added.

Djokovic and Federer opened Miami’s new center court (Picture: Getty Images)

‘The player council is only part of the structure. We are not part of the board or deciding anything. We are in consultation and collaboration with player board representatives.

‘Federer and Nadal have been icons of our sport for so many years and their opinions are extremely important to everyone. If they want to be active and part of it, either officially or unofficially, I think it’s only positive for us.



‘I saw Roger today. We were cutting the ribbon at the opening of the center court. We had a small chat but there was no time to talk about the political stuff. Hopefully we will have time in the next few days to go through some things.’

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