Tennis legend backs Novak Djokovic to play ‘as long as the young guys don’t want to beat him’

Novak Djokovic during a match

Tennis great Jimmy Connors has declared he “does not blame” Novak Djokovic for wanting to continue playing for “as long as these young guys don’t want” to beat him.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion expressed his respect for Djokovic “doing everything he can to be the best he can be” and said he likes to see “a 36-year-old guy making the headlines.”

Djokovic downed world No 3 Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the final of the 2023 US Open earlier this month to claim a fourth crown at the New York major. The world No 1 has now won a men’s record 24 Grand Slam titles.

The 36-year-old secured three of the four Grand Slam tournaments this year, while also falling in an epic five-set Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz.

This is the fourth season of the Serbian’s career where he has won three Grand Slam titles – a men’s record. He has now won 12 majors in his 30s and has a 12-3 record in Slam finals since turning 30.

Speaking on an episode of the Advantage Connors podcast, former world No 1 Connors supported Djokovic’s plan to keep competing while he remains at the top of the game.

“We’re talking about a 36-year-old guy who’s making the headlines. And you know I’m going to say it again. I like that,” said the American.

“You know, he made a good statement. He says, ‘I’m staying around as long as these young guys don’t want to beat me, I’m gonna stay and play.’ And I don’t blame him, because he is good.

“You know, he works at, he works at it. He does everything he can to be the best he can be. And from there, I mean all you have to do is just give him the respect for everything he’s put into it. And by the way, He’s on number 24.”

Following his record-extending triumph in New York, Djokovic warned his rivals he has no intention to leave tennis soon.

“I’m going to keep going. You know, I feel good in my own body. I still feel I got the support of my environment, of my team, of my family,” said the 36-year-old in a post-tournament interview.

“Grand Slams, I have vocalised that in the last few years, have been always the highest goal and the priority of mine in the whole season. I don’t play as much in terms of other tournaments, so I try to prioritise my preparation so that I can peak in Slams.

“Yeah, these are the moments and these are the kind of emotions that I motivate myself with every single day when I’m not playing a tournament. Yeah, occasionally I ask myself, ‘Why do I need this still at this stage after all I have done? How long do I want to keep going?’

“I do have these questions in my head, of course. But knowing that I play at such a high level still and I win the biggest tournaments in this sport – I don’t want to get rid of this sport or I don’t want to leave this sport if I’m still at the top, if I’m still playing the way I’m playing.”

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