Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic has claimed that the traditional big three of the sport are not yet rolling over in the face of challenges from younger rivals.
Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal on Sunday in the final of the Italian Open in Rome after being pushed hard by local Lorenzo Sonego. The 26-year-old Italian made the 33-year-old Djokovic use all three sets to get through, but the Serb was not feeling threatened.
Speaking to the press after the win, he told them that he and Nadal were amused by their longevity, as well as 39-year-old Roger Federer, who will soon return at the Swiss Open.
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"Rafa and I had a little laugh in the locker room after I won against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas,” Djokovic said.
We kind of joked around that the old guys are still not giving up. I saw he said somewhere a few days ago that Roger, him and I are old, but I disagree with him. I think we're showing some different, fresh energy.
"We had a laugh about it... I'm really glad that we are showing we're not backing off from the NextGen ATP attacks."
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Djokovic was happy to be facing Nadal, with the pair having played against one another in competitive matches almost 60 times.
"It's great to play him again in the final,' Djokovic continued.
He's the guy that I have encountered the most in my career. Definitely my biggest rival of all time.
"Playing him on clay in the finals of one of the biggest tournaments in the world is always extra motivating for me.
"Even after all we have been through in our careers, there's still this excitement when we have to face each other."
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