Rafael Nadal announced his withdrawal from Roland Garros not long ago and a day ahead of the event, Djokovic spoke about him at this press conference. He talked about Nadal as his greatest rival as well as his announcement that the 2024 season will be his final season in tennis. Djokovic will miss him this year as well due to the sheer amount of respect he has for him.
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Admiration for Nadal
Speaking at the press conference, Djokovic admitted he admires Nadal deeply:
“A lot of people were debating on how long he's still going to play because of the injuries that he had in the past 10 years. A lot of people retired him 10 years ago but he kept going, which is something I respect and admire. Because I know how hard it is to maintain that level, you know, and keep going even after having a tough injury and even after going through so much in your career and achieving so much you still have to kind of find that drive. He's really an exemplary player for that. So for sure he will be missed this season, and hopefully can come back for the last few months of the season, and then he said that next year will be his last."
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His retirement announcement
The news about Nadal retirement went around the globe in minutes. It made Djokovic said because with Nadal, a part of him will leave as well:
"That news came in a way as a shock to everybody. People were asking me how I felt when he said that. And I have to say that he's my biggest rival. When he announced that he's going to have his last season of career, I felt part of me is leaving with him too, if you know what I mean. Maybe I'm not expressing myself well, but because of the rivalry that we had and that we still have, because he's still active player, I feel that he was one of the most, I would say, impactful people that I have ever had in my career, the growth of my career, and me as a player. Definitely a great motivational factor for me to keep playing and keep competing and keep pushing each other, you know, who's gonna achieve more, who's gonna do better. It made me wonder, you know, it made me think about my career and how long I'm going to play. So far I'm not going to make any announcement today, but just reflecting on it, I felt also a little bit emotional about what he was saying.”