Wimbledon: Djokovic has 'nothing but respect' for 'amazing champion' Nadal

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Novak Djokovic says he has "nothing but respect" for Rafael Nadal as the Spaniard strives to create "even more of a successful legacy".

Nadal now has 22 majors to his name after winning the Australian Open and French Open this year – two more than Djokovic and Swiss great Roger Federer.

Victory at the French Open earlier in June was Nadal's 14th at Roland Garros, which is a whopping eight more than anyone else in the open era.

Djokovic, who kicks off his bid for a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title against Kwon Soon-woo on Monday, is in awe of Nadal's achievements, describing the 36-year-old as an "amazing champion".

"He had a surgery in the second part of the last year and coming back after that and winning a grand slam right away is something that is really impressive," the Serbian told a media conference on Saturday.

"[He is] making history with grand slam wins and at Roland Garros, the tournament where he has won most titles.

"Just for what he has achieved, keeps on doing on the court; he has a great fighting spirit, and he is an amazing champion.

"Just in general, the things he is trying to do to create even more of a successful legacy is something you have to respect and admire even though I am one of his biggest rivals. I have nothing but respect for what he has achieved."

Djokovic's refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccination has hampered his playing time this year, yet the 35-year-old is confident that will not hold him back as he bids for a seventh title at The All England Club.

"I didn't have any lead up tournaments but I've had success at Wimbledon before without having any official matches," he added.

"I had success with adapting quickly to the surface so there is no reason to believe why I cannot do it again. I'm very pleased and happy to be back at the tournament that was always my childhood dream, the one I wanted to win. Hopefully I continue that run.

"I would love to be in the position to fight for another trophy, I would like to be in the last match and eventually make history at this tournament.

"As a seven, eight-year-old boy I dreamed of winning Wimbledon and becoming number one. That was the biggest motivation I had as a kid.

"Pete Sampras, when he won his first Wimbledon, was the first tennis I watched on the TV. Pete has won it seven times. Hopefully I can do the same this year."

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