"Tennis' golden era will go when both take that dreaded call" - Tennis fans react as Novak Djokovic claims 'part of me is leaving with Rafael Nadal'
Tennis fans were left stunned when Novak Djokovic shared that he felt a part of him was leaving as well after Rafael Nadal announced that the 2024 season might be his final year on the ATP tour.
Ahead of his tournament opener at the 2023 French Open, Djokovic deemed Nadal his "biggest rival." The Serb revealed that the Spaniard's announcement made him question how long he had left in his own career.
"I was saying always that he's my biggest rival. When he announced that he's going to have his last season of his career, I felt part of me is leaving with him too," Djokovic said.
"Yeah, it made me wonder, it made me think about my career and how long I'm going to play," he added.
Several fans lamented the eventual departure of Nadal and Djokovic, recognizing the significant loss their retirement would inflict upon the world of tennis.
"Half of Rafa went with Federer. Half of Novak he claims will go with Nadal. Full of men's tennis' golden era will go when both of them take that dreaded call," a fan tweeted.
"Their rivalry elevated both. We fans fought for so long over who is the best but now that Roger is gone and Rafa is on the verge of going out and you know Novak might not be around for more than 3 seasons, it's extremely sad for us tennis fans," a user commented.
Other fans noted how Novak Djokovic's sentiments mirrored the ones expressed by Rafael Nadal at the time of Roger Federer's retirement.
"What Nadal thought about Federer," a fan commented.
"Dint Rafa say the same last year when Roger retired," another fan chimed in.
Here are some more fan reactions to the Serb's comments:
A brief look at Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal's rivalry at French Open
Rafael Nadal enjoys a lopsided 8-2 winning record against Novak Djokovic at the French Open.
In their first meeting, Nadal led 6-4, 6-4 in the 2006 quarter-finals in Paris when the Serb was forced to retire mid-match due to a back injury.
The Spaniard registered back-to-back semi-final victories over the Belgrade native in 2007 and 2008. He then defeated the 22-time Grand Slam champion in the 2012 final, in what marked their fourth consecutive Major final clash.
Nadal continued his dominance over the Serb at the French Open in 2013 and 2014 as well, beating the 36-year-old in the semi-final and final, respectively.
The Serb became only the second man to defeat the Spaniard at Roland Garros when he won their quarter-final clash in 2015 in straight sets. However, it was Nadal who came out on top in the 2020 final, before Djokovic notched his second victory over the former World No. 1 in the 2021 semifinal.
Nadal and Djokovic's most recent clash in the 2022 semi-final saw the former emerge as the winner en route to his record 14th French Open title.