Novak Djokovic sends classy message to Rafael Nadal as retirement plans addressed

Nadal suddenly announced that he was having an arthroscopic procedure on his left psoas muscle on Friday night. The 37-year-old failed to recover from the injury he picked up in Australia and was forced to resort to the operating table.

It also came two weeks after he staged a press conference to confirm his withdrawal from the French Open, also admitting that next season would likely be his last on tour. And Djokovic has now sent his well wishes to his biggest rival, saying the sport needed to see Nadal healthy.

“It was his birthday yesterday, and he announced that he got his surgery,” the world No 3 said after reaching a record 17th French Open quarter-final. “I got one surgery in my career on the elbow, and I know how hard it is to get back. It’s just one of those things that you don’t want any athlete to go through.”

Referencing his own elbow surgery in 2018, he continued: “Sometimes I guess it’s necessary. For him it’s been several times now throughout his career. I don’t know what the severity of or the nature of his injury is, but, you know, if he got on a surgery table, it means there was no other solution.” 

And Djokovic was full of praise for his fellow 22-time Grand Slam champion as he said he hoped to see Nadal fulfil his wish of ending his career on his own terms. “So, you know, I really hope that, yeah, his rehabilitation process can go well and that we can see him next season,” he added.

“I think that he’s so important for our game on and off the court, one of the greatest legends of tennis in the history of the game. We want to see healthy Rafa, no question about it, playing for what he has announced his last season. You know, hopefully he’s gonna be able to do that.”