Novak Djokovic hopes to take on Rafael Nadal in 'one more tournament'

Spaniard uncertain for French Open after recurring fitness issues

Serbia's Novak Djokovic, left, said he wants to face Spain's Rafael Nadal one last time before the latter retires. AP
Powered by automated translation

Serbian great Novak Djokovic said he wants one final battle with Rafael Nadal even as the Spaniard's withdrawal from the Monte Carlo Masters has cast doubt over his participation at the French Open.

Nadal, 37, had said he expected to retire after the 2024 season. He returned to competition in Brisbane in January, after almost a year sidelined with a hip flexor injury, but has not played an ATP event since.

"As a tennis fan I want him to play at least one more tournament before he retires," Djokovic told Eurosport.

"We all know what he's done on clay in his career, particularly Roland Garros.

"That's his goal, we all know that, he's been saying it. For the sake of all tennis and Roland Garros in particular, we hope that he can play there. It would be great to have another great encounter."

Djokovic begins his quest for a third title in Monte Carlo on Tuesday without coach Goran Ivanisevic by his side after ending their successful partnership last month.

The Serbian has started working with former doubles world number one Nenad Zimonjic.

"We have known each other really well for more than 20 years. He's been always like an older brother to me. A mentor, a friend, who always tried to help me as a person and as a player," Djokovic said.

"When I stopped with Goran, I was starting my clay-court preparation in Belgrade and he was there. He came to the court, and we really enjoyed our collaboration and I asked him to come here for a few weeks."

Meanwhile, up-and-coming Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz, now ranked third after being displaced by Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner, was equally disappointed not to have a chance to face longtime idol Nadal in Monte Carlo.

"If he's not here it doesn't change a lot for me," Alcaraz said. "I'm not used to seeing him around much.

"We have not played (in the same) tournaments (at the same time). I've only played a few where he is around.

"As a fan of tennis, it's a shame that he is not here playing in this event."

The youngster still dreams of teaming with Nadal at the Paris Olympics.

"I still hope to play with him, the Olympics are four months from now and everything can change.

"Nadal would be great for me."

Updated: April 07, 2024, 9:00 AM