Novak Djokovic retirement comments may be his French Open inspiration

Novak Djokovic pleased

When a sporting superstar talks about the prospect of retirement, it can fire their burners all over again and that may be the story for Novak Djokovic at the French Open.

Djokovic eased into the second round of the French Open after a 6-3 6-2 7-6 (1) victory over American Aleksandar Kovacevic, with the 22-time Grand Slam champion seemingly in good form after heading into the second major of 2023 with concerns over his injured elbow.

He also made some interesting comments prior to the event, as he hinted retirement from the sport has come into his mind for the first time.

Djokovic, who celebrated his 36th birthday earlier this month is currently in his 20th season as a professional, but he admits confirmation that his great rival Rafael Nadal is planning to retire next year has focused his mind on his exit from the sport.

“It made me wonder and, and question myself and, and where, where the end of my career is going to be and how,” ” he told Eurosport.

“We all knew that that might be coming around the corner because of his injuries and everything and, and of course, the age and the number of years he has played on the tour.

“But still, when he announced that his, the next season will be his last season. It still came as a bit of a shock, you know, to, to me and, so I, I kind of, you know, have this internal conversation with myself as well.”

Djokovic showed no signs that his appetite for the battle was waning as he beat Kovacevic in Paris on Monday, with his level of performance improving as he raced through the third set tie-break in impressive fashion.

After his stunning victory at the Australian Open last January, Djokovic appeared to have the tennis world at his mercy.

Yet the landscape has changed dramatically since that opening major of 2023, with Djokovic now at No 3 the ATP rankings behind Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev, while his uncertain form and concerns over his fitness undermined his preparations for the French Open.

So Djokovic’s army of admirers around the world will have been encouraged by his opening display in Paris, as he gave a big indication that he is ready to move through the gears ahead of a potential blockbuster semi-final against Alcaraz next week.

“The body is not responding as promptly and quickly in terms of recovery as was the case 10 years ago,” conceded Djokovic after his first round win in Paris.

“I think you have to be a little smarter with time management and energy management.

“So we just try to pick and choose which tournaments we want to peak, and where I want to have a physical, emotional, mental state the best. And those are the Grand Slams, no secret about it.

“After I won the Australian Open earlier this year, I said the next big goal is Roland Garros.

“Of course I would’ve liked to win a few more matches in the clay court season leading up to Roland Garros but that wasn’t the case, but it’s OK. I’ve been feeling good the last week or so of training. And today was a good day at the office.”

When you start to think about the end of your career, you begin to appreciate how precious each and every chance to win a Grand Slam title will be.

With Nadal’s hopes of making a comeback to the top of the game hanging by a thread, Djokovic may only need to win one more major title to ensure he finishes this golden era in the sport with the most majors.

That achievement has never felt close to Djokovic as Roger Federer and Nadal drop out of the picture, but recent history will remind that the final major is often the hardest to win.

Serena Williams was chasing Margaret Court’s all-time major record in her final years in the sport and that golden moment never arrived.

Djokovic will feel his destiny will have a different conclusion.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic admits retirement plans have come into his mind