Novak Djokovic has stated that a part of him would leave if Rafael Nadal retires in 2024.
Nadal was ruled out of the French Open, which begins today, after failure to recover from a hip injury he suffered at the Australian Open in January. The 14-times Roland Garros winner has also said that 2024 could be the final year of his illustrious career.
Nadal and Djokovic have won 22 Grand Slam titles each.
"Honestly, I don't miss him being in the draw. I don't like seeing him in the draw of Roland Garros," Djokovic told reporters with a laugh.
"I have had not so much success against him in our head-to-head record in Roland Garros. I've managed to beat him twice, but I had to leave my heart and my guts out on the court to achieve that.
"A lot of people retired him already 10 years ago but he kept going, which is something I respect and admire. I know how hard it is to maintain that level and keep going even after having a tough injury.
"I have to say that he's my biggest rival. When he announced that he's going to have his last season of (his) career, I felt part of me is leaving with him too.
"I feel that he was one of the most impactful people that I have ever had in my career, the growth of my career and me as a player.
"Definitely a great motivational factor for me to keep playing and keep competing and keep pushing each other — who's going achieve more, who's going to do better."
Court Philippe Chatrier
• Marta Kostyuk v Aryna Sabalenka (2)
• Jiri Vesely v Stefanos Tsitsipas (5)
• Alize Cornet v Camila Giorgi
• Adrian Mannarino v Ugo Humbert
Court Suzanne Lenglen
• Karen Khachanov (11) v Constant Lestienne
• Maria Sakkari (8) v Karolina Muchova
• Laslo Djere v Andrey Rublev (7)
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Court Simonne Mathieu
• David Goffin v Hubert Hurkacz (13)
• Magda Linette (21) v Leylah Fernandez
• Arthur Cazaux (W) v Corentin Moutet
• Jule Niemeier v Daria Kasatkina (9)