Djokovic: I see Nadal more than I see my mother
NOVAK DJOKOVIC joked he sees more of Rafael Nadal than he does of his mother, and tennis' most prolific rivalry shows no signs of slowing down.
The pair met for the sixth time this year and 39th time overall in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Monday, with Djokovic levelling matters for 2013 with a convincing win.
It is a compelling rivalry for a number of reasons, not least the match-up of styles, but also because neither seems to manage to keep the upper hand for long.
Djokovic won seven matches in a row in 2011 and 2012, including the finals of Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, but Nadal hit back with six wins from the next seven meetings.
Defeats by the Spaniard in the semi-finals of the French Open and the US Open final hit Djokovic hard, but his response was impressive – 22 straight victories and four titles.
"We push each other to the limit," said Djokovic. "We make each other better players. We make each other work harder on our games, especially when we play against each other. It's always a huge challenge."
Even the off-season will not give Djokovic and Nadal a break from each other, with the pair both heading to South America later this month to play a series of exhibitions.
"I see him more than my mum actually," added Djokovic.
The Serbian also has the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic in Belgrade next weekend while Nadal is going to the Caribbean for Richard Branson's Necker Cup.
It could be a risky strategy for Nadal, given the knee problems that kept him out for seven months.
He will head home to Majorca at the end of the month to have his knee checked, with his first appointment of next season coming in Abu Dhabi straight after Christmas.
Nadal admitted he may not be completely ready for the new season, saying: "I really hope that both events in Abu Dhabi and Doha give me a chance to prepare myself to be 100 per cent ready for the first grand slam of the season."
The unknown factor will be Andy Murray's return after the back surgery that cut short his season. All indications are that the Wimbledon champion's recovery is on track and he travelled to Miami on Monday to begin his pre-season training camp.