Novak Djokovic makes retirement comments and reveals what has surprised him in 2024

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic answering his doubters again
Novak Djokovic answering his doubters again

Novak Djokovic was in a reflective mood as his dominance of the men’s game continued with a crushing win against Adrian Mannarino at the Australian Open.

Djokovic equalled Roger Federer’s record by reaching a 58th Grand Slam quarter-final with 6-0 6-0 6-3 victory over his French rival and he made some telling comments in his post match press conference.

The world No 1 was asked if the pressure of being the king of the men’s game is losing its intensity as he reaches the back end of his career, with Djokovic insisting his intensity is not dropping.

“I thought maybe I would this year feel slightly more relaxed, for lack of better term, or maybe less tension, less stress on practice sessions, matches. But it is not,” he said.

“It is as it always was: very high intensity. You can see it even today. I was 6-Love, 2-Love up. It was a long game, and I was like going on with discussions, heated discussions, with my box.

“I always look for the best performance from myself. So I put a lot of effort every single day into making it happen. When it doesn’t happen, I’m frustrated.

“It’s still there. The fire is still burning. I think that’s what allowed me to be where I am and achieve the things that I have achieved.

“Part of me, of course, is enjoying the process, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing. In the end of the day, I’m not playing anymore because I need more money or I need more points or whatever. I just want to play. I really enjoy the competition.

“The drive is there. That’s the most important thing an athlete should always have and nurture. I don’t think I’ll be able to, while still competing, really kind of nonchalantly go out on the court and have fun with it. It’s just not me. Yeah, I’m a fierce competitor, as many guys out there.”

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Djokovic was then asked if he has considered when his remarkable career will end and he confirmed again that he will only quit when the chasing pack of players start beating him consistently.

“While being No. 1 and still on top of the game, I don’t feel like leaving tennis in that position,” he added.

“I feel like I want to keep on going. When I feel that I am not able to compete at the highest level with the guys and be a contender for a Grand Slam title, then I’ll probably consider going into retirement.

“But that can change, obviously. I mean, a lot of things can change. I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m a father and a husband. A lot of things are happening in my private life off-court that I enjoy, that require my attention, my presence, my energy.

“Yeah, still I’m really blessed to be where I am. Let’s see how far it goes.”

Djokovic faces 12th seed Taylor Fritz next after he claimed a landmark victory over last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Fritz went into the match with a 0-11 record against top-10 players at Grand Slam tournaments but came away with a 7-6 (3) 5-7 6-3 6-3 triumph to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time.

He will need to achieve another first if he is to go further having lost all eight previous meetings with Djokovic, including a painful five-set defeat in the third round three years ago when the Serbian suffered an abdominal injury mid-match.

Cheered on by Melbourne’s large Greek population, Tsitsipas has enjoyed the best results of his career at the Australian Open but he failed to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2020.