Eight champions, one unforgettable interview. That is what fans received Sunday when the ATP released an exclusive all-eight interview with every singles player competing at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Top seed Rafael Nadal and five-time season finale champion Novak Djokovic quickly praised one another, with the rest of the champions listening intently.
“I think I have to say to Novak, he’s able to be super professional, to control his body, to hold the passion. It doesn’t matter how things are going, he always keeps going until the end and that’s something very difficult, especially in a super long career after all the success,” Nadal said. “To keep having the passion and the love for the game, I think it’s something I admire a lot.”
Djokovic and Nadal have met a record 59 times (Djokovic leads 30-29) in their ATP Head2Head rivalry. Five of those clashes have come at the Nitto ATP Finals, with another battle possible later in the week in the knockout stages of the year-end championships.
“I am really privileged to have the rivalry that we had over the years,” Djokovic said. “I think we respect each other a lot and we push each other to the limit and kind of motivate each other to go even higher. It’s great to be part of that era.”
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It was clear the rest of the players in the room at the Gallerie d’Italia — all of whom are 26 or younger — were eager to hear what their legendary colleagues said. Casper Ruud explained the impact Djokovic and Nadal have had on him.
“Everything they have brought to the table and every match is pure passion,” Ruud said. “Them playing against each other was some of the most exciting things you could watch in sports in my opinion.”
Only one man will emerge the ultimate champion at the end of the week in Turin. Every match will be difficult, and the likelihood of smooth sailing is small. Djokovic found a succinct way to describe the rollercoaster that is the Nitto ATP Finals.
“You go from your lowest to your highest in one or two days,” Djokovic said. “It’s kind of a journey of the entire season congested in [eight] days. It’s quite a unique event.”
Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are the three players in the field who have lifted the trophy at the season finale. According to Medvedev, the competitors must be on top of their game from the first point.
“For me it’s about beating the best players in the world, because there is no other tournament where first match straight away you’re going to play a Top 10 player. There is not one more tournament like this, and it’s tough,” Medvedev said. “You have to be at your ‘A’ game from the first match ’til the last one and that’s the toughest part, but that’s what you have to do to win.”