London: World number two tennis player Novak Djokovic has said his professional rivals Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal cannot be his friends till the time they are competing against each other, but added that after retirement all four could become great pals.
Murray will take on Czech star Tomas Berdych for a place in the US Open final, while old mate Djokovic clashes with David Ferrer on Friday.
“Anybody who has played Andy knows how good he is. The question never was could he beat me, Roger and Rafa? It was just if he could in a final. So much of tennis is mental strength and I believe the Olympic win has brought Andy that,” a daily quoted Murray, as saying.
“When I won Wimbledon in 2011, no player apart from Roger or Rafa had won the tournament since 2002. After that I got this self belief and things changed for me. The gold in London was great for Andy. I think he will use it as a springboard to now go and win majors,” he added.
“I can’t be friends with Andy, though. I really like the guy — but how can you go and be best friends with a guy who you know you are going to be doing battle with? It is true for myself, Roger, Rafa and now Andy. We like each other and there is mutual respect but common sense tells you we can’t be best friends and hang out,” he said.
Djokovic added: “When we are all retired the four of us will go to a bar, drink too much beer and look back on all the great matches we’ve had. But, for now, we must keep a professional distance.”
“I see us being very good friends in the future but the reason I can’t be friends with him now is a compliment. It means I now see him as a very real threat for this Grand Slam and many to come,” he concluded.