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Djokovic: Rafa-Roger still the No. 1 rivalry

ESPN staff
June 12, 2012
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have met 33 times since 2006 © Getty Images

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic believes his rivalry with Rafael Nadal can surpass that of Roger Federer and Nadal.

Djokovic saw his bid to hold all four grand slams shattered as he lost the French Open final to the Spaniard, who claimed a record seventh title at Roland Garros.

The pair have played 33 times since 2006, including 11 finals in less than two years. While Djokovic concedes the match-up between Nadal and Federer is still the greatest in tennis, he believes he can muscle in on the act.

"Obviously Federer and Nadal have still, I think, the biggest rivalry in the sport," Djokovic said after his French Open defeat to Nadal. "Because they have been at the top for so many years, they have been so dominant. I mean, I just joined that rivalry, I think, you know, just recently, couple years ago.

"We are very young, and we played over 30 times against each other, and hopefully we can have many more battles in the next years."

Despite missing out on a career Grand Slam, Djokovic, who has won four of the last six majors, is determined to bounce back and defend his Wimbledon title.

"I think the sport is experiencing some really good times now," he said. "We're attracting a lot of attention to men's tennis because we have, you know, these two great players, and [Andy] Murray, myself, and we really have some great players, some charismatic players, a lot of personalities.

"This is good for tennis. It's beautiful. These matches make you feel like all the work that you put into it is worth [it], you're living for this moment to play finals of any grand slam, and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

"I lost this time. But I believe that there are still many years to come, and hopefully I can come back stronger."

Men's rankings: 1. Novak Djokovic (SRB), 2. Rafael Nadal (SPA), 3. Roger Federer (SWI), 4. Andy Murray (GBR), 5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA), 6. David Ferrer (SPA), 7. Tomas Berdych (CZE), 8. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB), 9. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG), 10. John Isner (USA)

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