Novak Djokovic channels inner Zlatan Ibrahimovic with actions Rafael Nadal frowns upon

Novak Djokovic speaks following his US Open defeat against Daniil Medvedev.

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AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has praised Novak Djokovic for his passionate outbursts – the very same acts that tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have condemned. Ibrahimovic turned 40 last weekend and hosted a star-studded party to celebrate.

The Swedish striker, who has no plans to retire as he eyes a fourth Serie A crown with Milan in second place, had a number of impressive guests, including Paul Pogba, Antonio Cassano and PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

Ibrahimovic is close friends with tennis superstar Djokovic, and spoke fondly of the Serb’s passion, likening the 20-time Grand Slam champion to himself. 

“First of all, Novak thinks in the Balkan way,” said the Swede. 

“When you explode, everything goes well. When you are angry, you give your all, you become more concentrated and attentive.”

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The striker insisted Djokovic is driven by defiance and anger, and such feelings give him extra energy on the court – even in seemingly hopeless situations.

Ibrahimovic added: “When Nole starts to get angry, he gives his maximum. It’s the same with me.

“He is a perfect athlete. With experience and age, a person grows mentally. 

“Nope – he is like me.”

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Tennis icon Nadal was bemused by Djokovic’s behaviour during the Serb’s bronze medal match defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta at the Tokyo Olympics.

Djokovic threw a racket into the empty stands before smashing another out of frustration and apologised afterwards for the poor message. 

In the incident’s aftermath, Nadal urged his rival to be aware of his status as a role model and the example he sets, while Federer has also questioned his rivals’ outbursts in the past.

“Luckily there were no people in the stands and nothing else happened, but hey, they are things that happen from time to time,” the Spaniard casually commented. 

“You have to try to avoid them. The image is not the best.

“It is important to avoid this, especially as a role model for many children. He is the number one in the world and one of best in history.

“It’s strange that someone so successful reacts this way from time to time, but in the end he’s very competitive and reacts like that.”

While it may be strange behaviour, Djokovic is aware of the toll that so much tennis at a consistently high level can have on his body.

The Serb pulled out of the Indian Wells tournament to rest and spend time with his family following his US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev. 

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