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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Novak Djokovic has no plans to hang up his racket anytime soon and is hoping he might be able to emulate American football great Tom Brady by extending his career well past his 40th birthday, the 36-year-old Serbian said on Tuesday, December 26.
Quarterback Brady played 23 seasons in the National Football League, winning seven Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before finally calling it quits at the age of 45 earlier this year.
World No. 1 Djokovic, who is preparing for the start of his 22nd season as a professional by playing an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz in Riyadh on Wednesday, said he had already learned plenty from Brady.
“Tom Brady is a great example of a champion in his sport and someone that has had such a great career and longevity,” the 24-time Grand Slam champion told reporters in the Saudi capital.
“He has put a lot of hours and a lot of time into self-care, into recovery, into making sure that in a way every aspect of his body and mind is covered so that he can have a long-lasting, successful career.”
“I know him personally and I learned a lot from him, from his example, and hopefully I can have a career that goes up to 40 or maybe even beyond – let’s see.”
Brady was in Djokovic’s box at Roland Garros in June to watch his friend win the French Open, one of three Grand Slam trophies the Serbian captured in 2023 along with the Australian and US Open titles.
“I feel great in my own body right now and I’ve been playing some really high-quality tennis,” Djokovic added.
“2023 was one of the best seasons I’ve had in my life and why stop while you’re still playing great? So I’ll keep going and take (each) year, one by one, and see how far I go.”
Alcaraz beat the Serbian in a five-set thriller to win this year’s other Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and Djokovic welcomed the rise of the 20-year-old Spaniard, especially as Roger Federer has retired and Rafa Nadal is entering his last season.
“Our era is coming to an end, but you have Alcaraz emerging which is great, and I was very happy that I had four very good matches with him this year,” Djokovic said.
“Each match attracted a lot of attention, we had a lot of great highlights and it’s good, it’s good for our sport.”
Djokovic will make his final preparations for a tilt at an 11th Australian Open title by representing his country in the United Cup in Perth and Sydney in the first week of the new year. – Rappler.com