Novak Djokovic has laughed off the idea of facing his long-time rival Rafael Nadal on the golf course, admitting one sport was enough for the two to battle in. The Spaniard is known for being a keen golfer and has previously won tournaments at home in Mallorca, and the world No 1 conceded that Nadal would be “better” than him if they attempted a friendly competition.
Djokovic and Nadal have arguably the most prolific rivalry in this era of men’s tennis, having faced off 58 times with their record almost all square with the Serb just leading their head-to-head 30-28. They have shared the year-end No 1 ranking for the last five seasons and the Spaniard just leads the all-time men’s singles Grand Slam race with 21 titles to Djokovic and Federer’s 20.
But it seems the world No 1 doesn’t want to find himself embroiled in yet another sporting rivalry with the 35-year-old, as he laughed off the suggestion for the pair to hit the golf course together. “I think we have challenged each other many times on the tennis court, it would be too much in other sports,” he said.
While the 86-time title winner wasn’t completely opposed to a friendly game in the future, he admitted there was a slim chance they’d be able to take their competitive streaks away. Djokovic continued: “Maybe one day we’ll try it, like friends. However, knowing how competitive he and I are, and if we were to play golf, we would both like to win. He is much better in golf than me, but it is a good and beautiful sport.”
Nadal has entered several tournaments at home in Mallorca, most recently coming second in the Balearic Mid-Amateur Golf Championship back in February, two weeks after winning a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. He also played the tournament in August of last year, shortly after being forced to end his 2021 season through injury.
He was the top seed at the 2021 Balearic Golf Championship for Mid-Amateurs based on his handicap, having come joint-sixth at the event in 2020 when he opted not to play the US Open, in what was the first big tournament to be held amid the Covid pandemic.
While it’s Nadal who would likely do better on the golf course, it’s the world No 1 who won their last meeting almost a year ago at the French Open. The pair have not faced off since Djokovic upset the 13-time champion in the semi-finals last year.
They were set to meet in the semi-finals of both Madrid and Rome but Nadal lost to Alcaraz in the Madrid quarter-finals, with the 19-year-old then beating Djokovic, before suffering an injury scare in his defeat to Denis Shapovalov in the Italian Open third-round. The loss also means Nadal will be the fifth seed at the French Open while Djokovic will be the top seed, meaning they can meet as early as the quarter-finals this year.