Novak Djokovic reacts to Rafael Nadal retirement hint after losing French Open battle
Djokovic row: Andrew Allison defends him, saying its his 'choice'
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Novak Djokovic has admitted he’s not surprised by Rafael Nadal’s retirement hint. The Serb lost to the Spaniard in the quarter-finals of the French Open in the early hours of Wednesday morning. And that means he won’t be winning a 21st Grand Slam at Roland Garros this year.
Djokovic had gone into his showdown with Nadal hoping to win the French Open for a third time.
However, he’s now exited the tournament with the Spaniard claiming a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 victory.
Before the match, and after his stirring victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime. Nadal hinted at calling time on his career.
And Djokovic has now reacted to those comments by admitting he’s ‘not surprised’ Nadal is contemplating retirement given his injury issues over the years.
“I didn’t see any problems,” said the Serb.
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“It’s not the first time that he is able to — a few days after he’s injured and barely walking — to come out 100 per cent physically fit.
“He’s done it many times in his career, so I’m not surprised.”
Nadal had previously said: “I am in the quarter finals of Roland-Garros.
“I am just enjoying the fact I am here for one more year.
“Being honest, every match that I play here I do not know if it will be the last match here in Roland-Garros in my tennis career. That is my situation now.
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“I went through a tough process again with my foot. I do not know what will happen in the near future with my career, so I am just trying to enjoy and fight as much as I can to keep living the dream.
“I hope to give myself a chance to play at the highest level possible and then let’s see.”
Djokovic also paid tribute to Nadal following his win, insisting his rival came through the tougher moments of the match.
“Congratulations to Nadal. He was a better player I think in important moments,” he said.
“I didn’t start so great, 2-6, 0-3, double-break down.
“I was gaining momentum as I was coming back in the second set, managed to win the second set, and I thought, I’m back in the game.
“I had my chances. I had my chances in the fourth [set].
“Served for the set, couple set points. Just one or two shots could have taken me into a fifth. Then it’s really anybody’s match.”
Yet while he wishes he’d played better, Djokovic also admitted he ‘tried his best’ and that Nadal was a deserving winner.
“I gave my best. I know I could have played better,” said the Serb.
“I’m proud of fighting and staying until the last shot. As I said, I lost to a better player today. Had my chances. Didn’t use them. That’s it.
“Over four hours’ battle and I have to accept this defeat.
“Then he had another two, three fantastic games at the beginning of the third. He was just able to take his tennis to another level in those, particularly moments at the beginning of all sets except the fourth…. he showed why he’s a great champion.
“Staying mentally tough and finishing the match the way he did. Congrats to him and his team.
“No doubt he deserved it.”
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