Rafael Nadal’s recent announcement that he plans to retire after the 2024 season has left Novak Djokovic questioning his own tennis future.
Djokovic’s great rival Nadal is absent from the French Open main draw for the first time since he made his debut in 2005 as he failed to overcome a hip injury. When announcing his withdrawal from the clay-court Grand Slam, the tennis great – who turns 37 in June – also revealed that he will hang up his tennis racket at the end of next season.
Djokovic turned 36 on May 22 and he is currently in his 20th season as a professional, but he admits that Nadal’s plans gave him food for thought and he acknowledges that he has had “internal conversations”.
“It made me wonder and, and question myself and, and where, where the end of my career is going to be and how, so because, you know, we all knew that that might be coming around the corner because of his injuries and everything and, and of course, the age and the amount of years he has played on the tour,” he told Eurosport.
“But still, when he announced that his, the next season will be his last season. It still came as a bit of a shock, you know, to, to me and, so I, I kind of, you know, have this internal conversations with myself as well.”
Of course with no Nadal in the draw, Djokovic will be the favourite to win the title along with world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
However, the two-time Roland Garros champion has not had a great build-up as he failed to make it past the quarter-final stage at any of the warm-up events on clay while he also struggled with an elbow problem, forcing him to miss the Madrid Open.
“I know how to, how to manage myself and my team and look, you know, I haven’t had a fantastic preparation prior to Roland-Garros,” the third seed said.
“But, you know, I’m always saying that Roland Garros is where I want to peak. So I’m, I’m aiming for that and I’m hoping that I come to life and come to reality here.”
However, the 22-time Grand Slam winner is a master of peaking at the right time and is hopeful the same will happen at this year’s French Open.
The Serbian added: “I actually think that the, the Grand Slams are a whole different ball game as they like to say, or a whole different sport really because it, it’s played in, you know, best of five. I think because of the importance of this event in the history of our sport, it just adds a bit more pressure, it adds also a bit more motivation. So I’m ready to give it all as, as I always have.”