Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he sees himself in Novak Djokovic and thinks that anger brings out the best in them both.
Ibrahimovic, who turned 40 this week, has often shown a bad-tempered side on the pitch, while Djokovic’s frustration has also boiled over at times on the court.
Djokovic has previously described Ibrahimovic as a “great friend, an amazing warrior, a phenomenal champion”, and has been pictured at an AC Milan game and wearing a club shirt.
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The pair both draw their heritage from the Balkans, with Djokovic born in Serbia and Ibrahimovic born in Sweden to a Bosnian father and Croatian mother.
"First of all he’s a Balkan head: when you explode you do well, when you get angry you do the best you can," Ibrahimovic told AC Milan’s club website about Djokovic.
You are more focused, more careful. When Nole plays and gets angry he brings out his best, and that’s how I feel alive.
"He’s a complete athlete. The head, with little experience, is not there. With experience, the mindset grows. Nole is like me."
Djokovic has not played since missing out on the Calendar Slam at the US Open last month and may not return to the court again this year.
Reflecting on Djokovic’s near-miss in New York, Ibrahimovic told Sportsweek: "The crisis in New York? It is never easy to digest such a disappointment.
"Nole played great and won all year. Then at the final step he missed something. It happens, it happens.
"But what Nole did remains incredible, unbelievable, and he must think so. I have not seen others do the same thing: he came close to the goal, like no one [else], but then it is true that the others are strong too, not just him."
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