By Adegboyega Adeleye
Tennis star Novak Djokovic is shocked by the decision of long-time rival, Rafa Nadal to retire in 2024 as it has made him question when to also call it quits on his glittering career.
The 36-year old Serb is in pole position to win his 23rd major title at the French open – the win will make him the outright men’s singles record holder ahead of Rafa Nadal.
Djokovic said: “It made me wonder about my career and how long I might play. When he announced he is going to have his last season, I felt part of me is leaving with him too.”
“That news came as a shock to everybody,” said Djokovic, who equalled Nadal’s 22 major titles by winning the Australian Open in January.
“It made me think about my career. I’m not going to make any announcement today, but reflecting on it, I felt a little bit emotional about what he was saying.”
Rafa Nadal recently announced his withdrawal from the 2023 French Open after suffering a long-term hip injury. The Spainard is set to miss the clay-court Grand slam for the first time in 19 years and would be unavailable to extend his record at Roland Garros.
The 14-time champion said he would stop playing for the foreseeable future so as to return well for a planned farewell season in 2024.
The rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal is one of the best in tennis history with the duo playing each other for an ATP Tour record of 59 times while winning a plethora of laurels in the past few years.
Djokovic who has won two French Open titles is set to add to his tally in the absence of Nadal.
Since the pair overtook tennis legend Roger Federer’s mark of 18 major titles, they have continued to battle for supremacy as they are now level on 22 Grand slam wins.
Djokovic continued: “Because of the rivalry that we have, I feel he was one of the most impactful people that I have had in my career,”
“He has been a great motivational factor for me to keep playing and keep competing, to keep pushing each other and who’s going to achieve more.”