Novak Djokovic shares Rafael Nadal wish and pays tribute to his rival after latest setback


Novak Djokovic expressed his hope that Rafael Nadal can return to “his favourite clay court of Roland Garros” as he discussed his rival’s injury struggles.

The Serbian declared that it is “important” for tennis to have Nadal on court, particularly in what could be his final season, while he described the Spaniard as a “legend of our sport.”

Nadal announced his withdrawal from the 2024 Monte Carlo Masters earlier this week and explained his body is still not ready to compete.

“Hi all, these are very difficult moments for me, sporting wise. Unfortunately I have to tell you that I am not going to be playing in Monte Carlo. My body simply won’t allow me,” wrote the former world No 1.

“And even if I am working hard and making the maximum effort every day with all the will to play and compete again at tournaments that have been very important for me, the truth is that I can’t play today.

“You have no idea how hard this is for me to not be able to play these events. The only thing I can do is to accept the situation and try to look at the immediate future keeping the excitement and will to play in order to give me a chance for things to get better.

“Thanks again to all, as always, for all the support and best wishes!”

The 37-year-old has not played since making a long-awaited comeback in Brisbane in January, where he suffered a hip injury setback in his quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson. Before Brisbane, Nadal had not played since sustaining a hip psoas muscle injury at the 2023 Australian Open.

Prior to pulling out of Monte Carlo, the 22-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the 2024 Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells.

In an interview with L’Equipe, Djokovic hailed Nadal and backed him for trying to continue when asked for his thoughts on the Mallorcan’s injury troubles.

“That’s the question of questions! Only he can answer that. It’s important for our sport to have Rafa on court, and even more so this year, where he said it might be his last,” the world No 1 said.

“It’s a shame to see him out since the start of the year. I don’t know where he is with his body. But who other than him has the right to do what is good for him? He is a legend of our sport. As a tennis fan, I hope he can return to his favourite clay court of Roland Garros.”

Djokovic and Nadal have contested a men’s Open Era record 59 matches, with the Serbian holding a 30-29 edge and the Spaniard having won their most recent clash at the 2022 French Open.

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