"Novak Djokovic is scared to face Rafael Nadal" "Saving energy for French Open": Fans divided over Serb's Madrid Open withdrawal for 2nd year in a row

Djokovic Nadal
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic has decided not to compete in the 2024 Madrid Open, just a week before the tournament's beginning (April 26-May 5). This has stirred up discussions among tennis fans worldwide.

Djokovic has had a tough year so far. He suffered a setback at the Australian Open, losing to Jannik Sinner in the semifinals and missing out on another shot at the Golden Slam. His performance in Indian Wells (third-round exit) and Monte-Carlo Masters (semifinal exit) didn't meet expectations either.

Djokovic's journey hit another snag on April 20 with his withdrawal from the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid. He hasn't disclosed his reasons for pulling out and French player Luca Van Assche will step in as his replacement. This marks the 24-time Grand Slam champion's second consecutive absence from the Spanish tournament, having missed it last year too.

Tennis fans have taken to X (formerly Twitter) to share their reactions to Novak Djokovic's latest update. Some suggested that the Serb may have withdrawn because he's "scared" of potentially facing his arch-rival Rafael Nadal in the claycourt tournament.

"Seems like someone is scared to face Nadal in the 2nd Round," the user wrote.
"Best news of the weekend. And Novak fans actually think he’s going to win the French lol. There’s no way with limited matches on the surface he does that this year," another wrote.
"Novax is scared to face Nadal on clay," one account chimed in.

However, some believed that the motive behind Djokovic's withdrawal was to preserve his "energy" ahead of the French Open (May 20-June 9) and the Paris Olympics (July 26-August 11).

"Understandable. He has no points to defend this tournament and he has already mentioned that his focus for this season is the Olympics, and not the n. 1 rank. So he is simply saving energy for RG and the Olympics," one user wrote.
"A smart decision by Novak, as always, considering what the main goal is this season. #RolandGarros #Olympics," another tweeted.
"Not a surprise! He was always transparent about playing only very few tournaments now," one account posted.

Novak Djokovic is a 3-time Madrid Open winner

Novak Djokovic pictured with the 2019 Madrid Open trophy
Novak Djokovic pictured with the 2019 Madrid Open trophy

Novak Djokovic has won the Madrid Open thrice, triumphing in 2011, 2016, and most recently in 2019.

Djokovic defeated five-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal to claim his maiden title. In 2016, he overcame defending champion Andy Murray and secured victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas four years later to lift the trophy again.

The Serb is just one more Masters 1000 tournament win away from achieving the 'Triple Career Golden Masters.' This elusive feat entails winning all the 1000-level tournaments at least three times. The only hurdle in his path appears to be a title in Monte-Carlo.

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

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Edited by Pritha Ghosh
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