Match Reaction

‘I Respect The Greatness’: Djokovic On Rodgers, Brady & Inter-Sport Friendships

Serbian star also discusses soccer star Zlatan and NBA’s Jokic
September 04, 2023
Novak Djokovic celebrates during his fourth-round win against Borna Gojo on Sunday at the US Open.
Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Novak Djokovic celebrates during his fourth-round win against Borna Gojo on Sunday at the US Open. By ATP Staff

Not for the first time this season, Novak Djokovic excelled under the gaze of NFL greatness with his fourth-round victory Sunday at the US Open.

In the stands at Flushing Meadows for the Serbian’s 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 triumph against Borna Gojo was NFL legend Aaron Rodgers. The New York Jets quarterback was following in the footsteps of his former on-field rival Tom Brady, who sat in Djokovic’s player box at Roland Garros in June as the Serbian charged to a record 23rd Grand Slam crown.

“It was a pleasure to have Aaron in the stands tonight for the match,” said Djokovic in his post-match press conference in New York. “I'm hoping he enjoyed himself. 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.”

You May Also Like: Djokovic Absorbs Gojo Body Blows To Reach US Open QFs

Rodgers and Brady are the latest in a string of high-profile athletes from other sports to have watched or met ATP Tour great Djokovic over the years. His friends from other sports also include Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic.

“Zlatan is my favorite football player, no doubt,” said Djokovic. “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 best basketball player in the NBA. That's amazing. We all love him, support him.”

Zlatan ibrahimovic/<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a>
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals. Photo Credit: FIT

Djokovic believes that a unique mindset unites many of the elite sportspeople he interacts with. Even after all his achievements across his groundbreaking ATP Tour career, the 36-year-old remains on the lookout for any lessons he can take from fellow sporting greats.

“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.”

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

Djokovic may not be counting on the support of too many of Rodgers and Brady’s fellow Americans in the quarter-finals in New York — the second seed takes on the No. 1 American Taylor Fritz in the last eight. With Frances Tiafoe or Ben Shelton, waiting in the semi-finals should he overcome Fritz, Djokovic is preparing to spoil the party as American fans hope for a first home champion at Flushing Meadows since Andy Roddick in 2003.

“I assume there's going to be more support for Taylor Fritz in our next match,” said Djokovic. “Obviously eventually if I win, to play Shelton or Tiafoe in the semis. It's expected. We're in America playing against home players. It's something that I would be surprised if it was otherwise, to be honest. So I know what I'm expecting, and I'm going to get ready for that mentally.

“Matches are only going to get tougher from now on. It's the quarter-finals of a Slam. I think it's important for a very big and important country in the tennis world, like America is, to have three tennis players in the quarter-finals of a Slam. It's important for this tournament. It's one of the four majors, one of the four most important events in the history of our sport."

Read More News View All News

View Related Videos View All Videos


Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store

Premier Partner

Platinum Partners

Gold Partners

Official Ball, Racquet and Tennis Accessory

Official Partners & Suppliers