“When he said he was leaving, a part of me left too” Djokovic ‘devastated’ by Nadal retirement news

“It made me think about how much longer I can play.”

There is a twilight period after a passionate prime, when you have to think about how to leave. Men’s tennis star Novak Djokovic (36, Serbia, world No. 3) says the announcement of rival Rafael Nadal’s (37, Spain, No. 15) retirement next year has made him think about how much longer he can keep playing.

“When Nadal announced that he was going to play his last season, I felt a part of me was leaving with him,” Djokovic, who is set to start the French Open on Monday, was quoted by the BBC and other major media outlets as saying, “and it made me think about how long I can do it.”메이저놀이터

Nadal, who has been plagued by nagging hip and back injuries this year, announced his French Open withdrawal at his eponymous academy on 18 April, saying: “Next year I will definitely be back at 100 per cent. 2024 will probably be the last year I play tennis,” he said, marking the first time he has given a specific retirement year.

Djokovic and Nadal are currently the two greatest adversaries, sharing the record for most titles at the four majors (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) with 22. Over the past two decades, he and Roger Federer (42-Swiss-Retired), the ‘Emperor of Tennis’, have teamed up to create the so-called ‘Phenazo’ (Federer-Nadal-Djokovic) era, winning a combined 64 major titles. They are now iconic figures in the men’s tennis ‘Greatest of all time’ (GOAT) debate.

In particular, Djokovic and Nadal have met a total of 59 times on the men’s professional (ATP) tour. Since their first meeting in 2006, they have played 27 times on hardcourt, 28 times on clay, and four times on grass, including all major finals. It has been a fierce rivalry, with Djokovic holding a narrow 30-29 lead. Their most recent meeting was in the quarter-finals of last year’s French Open, where Nadal defeated Djokovic 3-1 in straight sets.

“He was the one who pushed me to keep competing and achieving, so the news (Nadal’s retirement) came as a shock,” Djokovic said. “I don’t intend to make the (retirement) announcement today, but when I reflected on what he said, it was a bit emotional,” he added. Indeed, Djokovic is feeling the weight of the years, having recently groaned over injuries to his left leg hamstring muscle and right elbow.

However, he was quick to point out that he would not miss the French Open without Nadal. “I honestly don’t like to see Nadal at Roland Garros,” he said, “I was able to beat him twice (2015, 2021), but I had to give everything I had on the court to do it.” Nadal is a ‘legend’ who has won the French Open on clay 14 times. This is the most wins in a single major for both men and women. Djokovic has an absolute disadvantage of 2-8 against Nadal at the French Open.

At the French Open, which has always been Nadal’s ‘home ground’, Djokovic has reached the top twice (2016, 2021). He tasted victory for the first time in 2016, when Nadal withdrew from the tournament after the third round due to injury, completing a career ‘Grand Slam’ (winning all the majors in a career). In 2021, he had the last laugh, beating Nadal in the semi-finals.

It will be the first French Open without Nadal in 19 years, since 2004. Djokovic will open his French Open campaign on 29 September against American Aleksandar Kovacevic (ranked 25-114) in the first round.

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