Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are both healthy enough to begin the 2024 tennis season, though they will start in different ways. Djokovic will participate in the United Cup playing for Serbia. Nadal will begin his season at the Brisbane International, an ATP 250 tournament. That said, Nadal hasn't earned any rankings points since January 2023 so he needs to play more events than does No. 1 ranked Djokovic.
The biggest question about Nadal entering 2024 is his health. He suffered a hip injury in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open. After rehab did not work as well as hoped, Nadal had surgery over the summer and has been trying to work his way back.
Meanwhile, Djokovic did not lose a tournament in 2023 after falling in five sets in the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz. The loss would be the only time Djokovic would lose a Grand Slam event in 2023. The Serb also won the ATP Finals for a record seventh time. But Djokovic really hopes to play Nadal in the next year.
Novak Djokovic is 'grateful' to play in same era as Rafael Nadal
Speaking to the media ahead of an exhibition match against Alcaraz this week, Djokovic was candid about how having Nadal back and the potential he plays the Spanish great is good for tennis. Djokovic has accomplished more in his career, but Nadal is one of the most beloved players ever to pick up a racket. If and when the two play, the crowd will likely be heavily behind Nadal.
Djokovic knows this, of course. He is used to it. Whether he played Nadal or Roger Federer, Djokovic knew that he was not the player the crowd most wanted to win. That hasn't stopped Djokovic from feeling "grateful" to be part of the Big 3 era.
Djokovic told the media, "Tennis has grown so much over the last 20 years with the likes of Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray...I think in the last two decades it has grown so much and I’m so grateful to be part of this era. Hopefully, I can still keep going with the young guys. They make me very tired but I don’t give up."
Nadal, of course, doesn't give up either. One can hope that Nadal comes back and is able to compete for Grand Slam titles in 2024. Maybe one or three of those finals will be against Djokovic. That would truly be great for tennis.