Novak Djokovic has developed some friendships with some of the biggest names in world sport over the course of his career and now he has opened up on the inspiration he has taken from Tom Brady and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Djokovic strolled into the last eight of the US Open with a three-set win over Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo and now he is just one behind Roger Federer’s record of 58 grand slam quarter-finals after a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
After a fraught third-round match against fellow Serbian Laslo Djere saw him come from two sets down to keep his push for a 24th Grand Slam title on track, it was a relaxed Djokovic who faced the media after his latest win.
NFL great Aaron Rodgers was among the spectators watching Djokovic’s latest masterclass at the US Open, with the legend of tennis suggesting he has drawn inspiration from stars of other sports on his own road to success.
Footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and NFL legend Tom Brady are among Djokovic’s circles of friends and he suggests the methods they used to reach the top can be converted onto the tennis stage.
“I try to maintain and nurture relationships with athletes from different sports because, as an athlete, of course, I relate to them,” said Djokovic.
“I identify myself with what they are doing and I can understand the pain, the sacrifice, the dedication.
“I respect the greatness, especially the guys that have made it to an all-time great level in their respective sports. Those are the kind of people that you want to be around. You want to learn things from them because you never know, there are things that can be so inspirational, as they are in my relationship with Tom (Brady).”
Djokovic went on to talk about Aaron Rogers appearance in the stands at the US Open, as he suggested his friendship with Ibrahimovic is boosted by a mutual understanding of their cultures.
“It was a pleasure to have Aaron in the stands tonight for the match. I’m hoping he enjoyed himself,” said Djokovic
“Obviously him, Tom Brady being in my box for Roland Garros finals and sitting next to my wife, was a huge honour. I have a relationship with Tom for several years. We go back. I have tremendous respect for him.
“Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) is my favourite football player, no doubt. His Balkan mentality is something that is very familiar to me, let’s say, even though maybe it looks weird to the rest of the world. I understand him very, very well, have known him the last 15 years.
“Nikola Jokic is the best basketball player in the world at the moment. Incredible guy. Everyone is so amazed with his skills, what he does on a basketball court.
“I’m not a basketball expert, so I can’t really talk about his game so much, but I’m a huge fan.
“Obviously a Serbian basketball player coming from Serbia, dominating the NBA, is something that doesn’t happen very often.
“I think it never happened in the history of our basketball in Serbia, that we had the best basketball player in the NBA. That’s amazing. We all love him, support him.”
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