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Novak Djokovic ‘not as loved as Rafael Nadal’ as Toni address ‘feud’

Djokovic won a record 10th Australian Open title on Sunday, allowing him to return to the No 1 spot and match Nadal’s record of 22 overall Grand Slams. As he continues to cement himself in history, the Serb has often been unable to win over fans who have backed his rivals Federer and Nadal for years.

And Nadal’s uncle Toni has now shared his own theory on why the 93-time title winner hasn’t received the same adoration as his other Big Three rivals, claiming some would have been left unhappy when Djokovic first came up as the new kid on the block when Federer and Nadal had already established themselves. “Well I don’t know. It’s not a topic that worries me much either,” the coach of Felix Auger-Aliassime told Vanity Fair when asked if he understood some fans’ aversion to the world No 1.

But Toni still had his own logic, continuing: “I think the problem he has had is that he broke in when there was a clear rivalry between Federer and Rafael, and people liked that matchup. I think that he never managed to be as loved as the other two, and that his behaviour on the court has sometimes been a little more complicated.”

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While the 61-year-old’s comments have caused many to believe he does not like the world No 1, Toni was quick to put any speculation of a feud to bed as he explained that he had a good relationship with the newly-crowned 10-time Aussie Open champion. After giving his theory over fans’ aversion to the Serb, he added: “I have a good relationship with him. In addition to being a great champion, he has always had a good relationship with me.”

But Auger-Aliassime’s coach still didn’t understand exactly what it was that determined the popularity of each of the Big Three. “There are people who like Rafael, others like Federer and others like Djokovic. It is true that almost no one dislikes Federer, few people dislike Rafael and it is likely that Djokovic does have a detractor more than the two of them. But I don’t know exactly what it is,” he said.

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