WATCH: Rafael Nadal salutes Novak Djokovic; Andrey Rublev jokes about getting booted from WhatsApp groups

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal shaking on it Credit: Alamy
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal shaking on it Credit: Alamy

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andrey Rublev and the other five players competing in the singles at the ATP Finals took part in a question and answer session ahead of this year’s tournament and there were some sage replies as well as a couple of funny ones.

The trio along with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz are the men playing at the Pala Alpitour in Turin this week for the prestigious season-ending trophy.

As part of their media duties, the chosen eight sat down to answer a few questions.

What champion quality do you admire most about someone else in this room?

Rafael Nadal: “I think I have to say to Novak, he’s able to be super professional, to control his body, to hold the passion.

“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. Keep having the passion and love for the game, I think it is something I admire a lot.”

Novak Djokovic: “I’m really privileged to have the rivalry that we had over the years and 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 so it is great to be part of that era.”

Casper Ruud: “Rafa, Novak, the ones we saw on TV all our childhood, I think everyone here in the room. Everything they have brought to the table and every match is pure passion and them playing against each other was some of the most exciting things you could watch in sport, in my opinion.”

Daniil Medvedev: “I already felt that Roger, Rafa, Novak they are just the best tennis players of all time and people around me were like ‘yeah, Rafa is finished. You know he is injured’. I’m sure you heard it many times [gesturing to Nadal]. Rafa proved so many times that it’s not like this.

“About Novak when he just came on the tour everybody was like ‘yeah this young guy, you know, he is not going to achieve much comparing to Roger and Rafa and he proved everybody wrong and so that’s what I admire and that’s why they’re the best champions that ever existed.”

Have you ever been nervous about playing one of the champions in the room?

Andrey Rublev: “I’m nervous every match doesn’t matter who I play! Even now here, I’m nervous. In general, sport, to have this feeling when you’re tight when you’re nervous that’s something for sure that we’re going to miss because it is something that you get addicted to.

“It looks like you’re afraid and cannot make it and suddenly somehow you make it and this feeling that your arm is shaking or you cannot hold the racket and you make it, it makes you proud of yourself. You did something that not many people can feel and not many people can go through. That’s something that in the end I think we enjoy, but we understand it later.”

Can tennis rivals also be friends?

Felix Auger-Aliassime: “We’re all professional and all mature enough to compete at the highest level when we’re on the court, but also to have great conversations outside the court and be friendly so I surely think we can be friends with rivals.”

Taylor Fritz: “Compete on the court, leave it on the court. We travel 10 months a year with the same people, if you can’t be friends with everybody else then it’s a pretty rough life.”

Do we have a WhatsApp group?

Rafael Nadal: “Well, I think not here.”

Andrey Rublev: “I was the one who never texted there [in previous groups]. You don’t even know why these guys are in the group so I’m one of those guys. That’s why they probably kicked me out from a few of them!”

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