Novak Djokovic backtracks on retirement comments – ‘I don’t have a limit’

Novak Djokovic celebrates Serbia's WC qualification

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Novak Djokovic has clarified comments he made earlier on Monday talking about his eventual retirement. While collecting his year-end No 1 trophy at the Nitto ATP Finals, the Serb said he was hoping to play for “two more years”, leaving many to take it as an expiration date on his career. However, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has now claimed he was using a turn of phrase, and does not have a time limit on the rest of his playing career.

Djokovic secured the year-end world No 1 spot for a record seventh time when he defeated Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-final of the recent Rolex Paris Masters.

It allowed the 34-year-old to surpass his idol Pete Sampras, with whom he previously shared the record for six year-end No 1 finishes.

The Serb has now kicked off his ATP Finals campaign, looking for another record to equal his rival Roger Federer on six titles at the season-ending championships.

He got off to a successful start in the new host city of Turin, defeating eighth seed Casper Ruud 7-6(4) 6-2 in his opening round-robin match.

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Following his victory, Djokovic was presented with his year-end No 1 trophy on court in a special ceremony, and spoke in Italian for his acceptable speech.

He shocked the tennis world when he appeared to give his career a time limit without being asked, saying: “Yes, the dream goes on and I hope to play this sport two more years.”

The world No 1 has now backtracked on the two-year retirement date he appeared to give himself, admitting that things got a bit lost in translation.

“No, no, I didn’t mean it that way,” he said, explaining the confusion in his post-match press conference.

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“Paio d’anni means a couple of years. I said ‘couple’ meaning – I don’t know. I thought a couple of years playing at the highest level, why not? I mean, it would be great.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he didn’t have any retirement plans, feeling he was in a “good place”.

He added: “I don’t have a number in my mind of the years I still want to play at this level.

“I don’t have a limit. I don’t want to impose a limit to myself at all, because I still enjoy playing tennis, and I really enjoy competition and playing at the highest level. Being No 1 in the world, there is no reason for me yet to think about leaving tennis.”

However, the 34-year-old – who is the oldest player at this week’s ATP Finals by almost a decade – did lift the lid on when retirement would eventually come for him, saying it would likely be a decision he made himself rather than one caused by injury.

“I take care of my body along with my team pretty well, so I believe it won’t be for the injury actually, I hope it won’t be for that, that it will come on my own terms, whenever that moment arrives, that I’ll be very clear with myself that that’s it, you know, that chapter of my life is done, that I can move on,” the 86-time title winner admitted.

“But I just don’t feel that’s around the corner, so to say. I still feel like I have years in my legs and in my heart and in my head.

“As long as that’s the case, I’ll keep going, because I truly love the sport and I enjoy the competition, because it keeps me going, challenges me, motivates me, and that’s essential ingredients for me to still keep on playing.”
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