x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic respects his childhood friend Andy Murray

In his quest for a seventh grand slam title, Novak Djokovic will have to come through his old rival in Wimbledon men's final.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during their men's singles semifinal match at the All England Club in Wimbledon on Friday. Alastair Grant / AP Photo
Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during their men's singles semifinal match at the All England Club in Wimbledon on Friday. Alastair Grant / AP Photo

LONDON // Novak Djokovic has acknowledged his friendship with Andy Murray, which began when they first clashed as 11-year-old schoolboys at a junior tournament in south-west France, as he looked forward to facing the Briton in Sunday's Wimbledon final.

The world's top two players will face each other with Djokovic seeking his second Wimbledon title and Murray bidding to become Britain's first men's champion since Fred Perry in 1936.

For two men born just seven days apart in 1987, it will be the latest clash in a rivalry which started in Tarbes 16 years ago.

"It was maybe my first international tournament. I remember his curly hair. That's all I remember. I remember I had a short visit on the tennis court," said the world No 1 Djokovic of a young Murray. "On and off the court we have lots of respect for each other. Always very fair, very honest relationship."

Djokovic, seeking to win a seventh grand slam, said he will not get caught up in Britain's desire to see Murray end the 77-year wait for a men's singles champion at their home grand slam as he seeks a repeat of his win over the Briton at the Australian Open final in January.

"For me it's another final. I don't really think about that fact. I'm just trying to focus and get ready for what's expecting me," he said.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE