Like Federer's farewell, Djokovic wants biggest rivals at his swansong
TEL AVIV - Novak Djokovic has said that he wants his biggest tennis rivals to be by his side when he brings the curtain down on his career, much like Swiss great Roger Federer's emotional goodbye to the sport last Friday.
Images of Federer and Rafael Nadal - who shared one of the sport's most enthralling rivalries - sitting together and crying after combining in a Laver Cup doubles defeat at London's O2 Arena went viral on social media.
Djokovic and Andy Murray - two of Federer's other main rivals - were also present for the 41-year-old's final bow.
"It was just a very touching, very emotional moment," the Serbian told reporters on Tuesday ahead of his opening doubles match at the Tel Aviv Open, an ATP 250 event.
"Seeing his kids and his family, it got me emotional as well. I also must say I was thinking about how it would look for me when I say goodbye to tennis.
"There is definitely one thing that I will wish to have, other than, of course, my family and the close people in my life. I would love to have my biggest rivals and competitors there, because it added something more special, added more importance to that moment."
Federer retired after 24 years in which he won 20 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic is currently in his 19th year, while Nadal is in his 21st.
The 35-year-old Djokovic, who is one Grand Slam title behind Nadal's men's record of 22, said he felt no issues with his wrist, which had been bothering him during the Laver Cup last week.
He also said that the Spaniard, 36, remains his biggest rival. They faced each other a total of 59 times, with Djokovic winning 30.
"We played the most matches against each other of any other rivalry in the history of tennis," said Djokovic, who missed the Australian and US Opens in 2022 due to him not being vaccinated against Covid-19.
"The rivalry is very special and keeps going. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to play against each other more times. Because it's exciting for us and also for tennis fans and sport fans around the world." - REUTERS