Rafael Nadal has never officially said he will retire after 2024. He has hinted at that, sure. But never once has he said he is completely done. Possibly he did not want to say anything for certain because he did not know how his surgically repaired hip would respond to even a few matches. So far not so great.
Novak Djokovic has been asked about retirement because he is not young for a tennis player. But Djokovic won three Grand Slams in 2023, made the final in the other, and he also won the ATP Finals on his way to finishing year-end No. 1 for a record eighth time. But Djokovic's play so far this year has not been up to his normal level.
Is there a chance that tennis fans might be in for a surprise by the end of the year where Nadal keeps playing into 2025 while Djokovic decides to stop playing? Yes. At least based on recent comments.
Rafael Nadal might stay but Novak Djokovic might leave
Nadal started the year playing at the Brisbane International where he won his first few matches but then he hurt the same hip that he needed surgery on in 2023. The injury was not the same or as grave, but Nadal did have to pull out of the Australian Open. But Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya, told Punto de Break recently that Nadal still has a strong drive to play so maybe tennis fans simply need to wait and see how the year plays out.
According to Moya when asked if Nadal might play beyond 2024, "Yes, why not? He has earned the right to decide how, where and when he wants to retire. Despite his situation, which has changed by having a child, he wants to continue competing in this way."
But when Novak Djokovic was asked in a press conference at the Australian Open after he lost in the semifinals to Jannik Sinner about his future schedule, Djokovic said, "I want my thoughts to settle; when I calm down, I will move on and see what tournaments I will play.
"I made a commitment to myself that I will give it my all this year, with the priority being Slams and the Olympics. We’ll see whether something will change, in this stage of my life and my career some surprising decisions are maybe more expected compared to twenty years ago."
There are a couple of things to note in his comments that could easily be misread. However, the "commitment" to "give it (his) all this year" could be interpreted as Djokovic is thinking of not playing in 2025. While the "surprising decisions" part implies he is almost ready to tell everyone he is not going to be playing much longer.
In Djokovic's case, he might be pushed closer to retirement if the field is catching up to him. That certainly seems to be the case with Jannik Sinner, specifically. Sinner has beaten Djokovic three times in their last four meets, including in the Australian Open semifinals. Maybe Carlos Alcaraz is not the player who gets Djokovic thinking of retirement after all, instead that player is Jannik Sinner.