Novak Djokovic - "Hope to play Rafael Nadal at least one more time before he retires... He is my most important rival"

Novak Djokovic expressed his hope of facing great rival Rafael Nadal at least once before the Spaniard
Novak Djokovic expressed his hope of facing great rival Rafael Nadal at least once before the Spaniard's retirement

Novak Djokovic has expressed his wish to face Rafael Nadal at least one more time before the Spaniard announces his retirement from tennis.

Last year, Nadal said the 2024 season will likely be his last on tour. Djokovic and Nadal's rivalry is the most prolific among men. They have clashed against each other on 59 occasions. While Djokovic leads Nadal 20-7 on hard courts, the Spaniard leads the Serb 20-8 on clay. On grass, they are tied at 2-2. They have also contested nine Grand Slam finals, with Nadal winning five of them.

Djokovic spoke about his rivalry with Nadal at the 2024 Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid. The Serb expressed his respect for the Spaniard along with his hope of facing Nadal "at least one more time before he retires."

"I have a lot of respect for a legend like him, with whom I hope to be able to play at least one more time before he retires," Djokovic said after being named the 2024 Laureus Sportsman of the Year.

The ATP World No. 1 also lauded Nadal's personality and acknowledged his importance as a rival.

"I have a lot of respect for Rafa, he is a good person and a legend of our sport, he is my most important rival . In Australia, I said I hoped to see him in one or two tournaments and I hope to do that," Djokovic added.

Djokovic's last encounter against Nadal came in the quarterfinals of the 2022 French Open, which the Spaniard won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4). Nadal would eventually win his record-extending 14th French Open title that year by defeating Casper Ruud in a one-sided final (6-3, 6-3, 6-0).


Novak Djokovic will not feature at the Madrid Open; Rafael Nadal to start campaign against teenager Darwin Blanch

Rafael Nadal (L) and Novak Djokovic (R) at the 2022 Laver Cup Gala Dinner
Rafael Nadal (L) and Novak Djokovic (R) at the 2022 Laver Cup Gala Dinner

Djokovic withdrew from the 2024 Mutua Madrid Open. The 24-time Grand Slam winner did not offer any specific reason for his withdrawal.

However, Nadal is set to participate in the tournament, where he is a five-time champion. The Spaniard will kickstart his campaign in Madrid against 16-year-old American, Darwin Blanch.

Nadal's last outing came at the recently-concluded Barcelona Open, where he lost in the second round to Alex de Minaur.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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