Novak Djokovic fears Rafael Nadal: "He'll be the favorite at the Roland Garros 2024"

The Serbian champion, at a press conference after the defeat against Sinenr in the semi-final of the Australian Open, talked about the next Major, the French Open, indicating his Spanish rival as the favorite for the final victory

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Novak Djokovic fears Rafael Nadal: "He'll be the favorite at the Roland Garros 2024"
© Graham Denholm / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The defeat in the Australian Open 2024 semi-final against Jannik Sinner can be interpreted in many ways, but for Novak Djokovic it is already time to look forward. Nole showed stuttering tennis during the entire Happy Slam, especially in the semifinal against the young Italian.

The Serbian champion had some difficulties in his movements and showed some physical limitations. He probably suffered some physical problems that slowed down his performance, but in the press conference, Nole didn't mention this.

The media asked him if he is already thinking about the next Major, the Roland Garros. The 36-year-old was eliminated for the first time in the semifinals at the Australian Open, where he had a 10-0 record, looking as vulnerable as ever on Rod Laver Arena.

A hard defeat to stomach, which came after a performance decidedly below expectations, considering the level expressed by Djokovic in the Slams in 2023. Nole committed 54 unforced errors and was unable to obtain even a single ball during the entire match. match.

Projecting himself to Roland Garros, which will be played from 26 May to 9 June 2024, Djokovic indicated Rafael Nadal as the favorite for the final win, if he should he play the tournament without problems.

"The Roland Garros is really very far away. It remains to be seen how tennis players will play in the coming months, particularly during the clay court season. It is a completely different surface from the others and is played in different conditions. Some play better on clay and are favoured, it is a surface that adapts to a certain type of tennis player. Obviously, Rafael Nadal remains the favorite if he were to play the tournament.

Regardless of the fact that he hasn't played much, we are talking about the Roland Garros. Of course there are Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. The top five or ten players in the world can be considered the favorites to win the final. There are still many months to go, we'll see how the situation will evolve," explained Djokovic, who in Paris will have to defend the title he won last season.

We recall the Spaniard should come back to teh court the ATP tournament in Doha. He should also play the ATP Masters 1000 at Indian Wells and Miami, before focusing on his beloved clay season.

Nadal© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic: "It's not the beginning of the end"

Sinner's victory could propose a new scenario in Djokovic's career and anticipate that generational change that a few weeks ago, specifically at the ATP Finals in Turin, seemed to have receded.

Djokovic and Sinner have a similar style of play and it was inevitable for the Italian to study the Serbian's characteristics in detail during his growth path. Simone Vagnozzi himself, coach of the young Italian, explained: "We often take Novak as an example based on what he does on the pitch and in these two years we have tried to put something of Novak into Jannik."

Novak Djokovic & Jannik Sinner, Australian Open 2024
Novak Djokovic & Jannik Sinner, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Sinner himself interrupted the incredible streak of consecutive victories recorded by Djokovic in Melbourne, which stopped at 33.

"Age is making itself felt and is the new generation at your level? We'll see! I do not know. I still have high hopes for the other Slams, the Olympics and whatever tournament I play. We are only at the beginning of the season. It's not the feeling I'm used to. It has always been incredibly satisfying to start many seasons by winning a Slam and never losing in the semi-final or final at the Australian Open.

This time it's different, but that's how things are. In this tournament I didn't live up to my standards and my level, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the beginning of the end, as people like to say. We'll see what happens in the rest of the season," explained Djokovic at the press conference.

A statistic must be highlighted, after the victory of Sinner, who literally dominated the match - without even granting a break point - against the Serbian champion. For the first time since 2005 no member of the Big 3 will play in the Australian Open final. A fact that underlines how, albeit slowly, generational change is taking place.

On that occasion it was Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt who battled, with the Russian winning in four sets. At least one of Nole, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer has played in the final of the prestigious Australian competition for almost 20 years: a fact that certifies the absolute domination of the three tennis players over the rest of the men's circuit.

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Australian Open