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'We want to see healthy Rafa': Djokovic awaits return of formidable rival Nadal

IANS | June 05, 2023 12:05 PM

NEW DELHI: Novak Djokovic expressed his wish for his formidable rival, Rafael Nadal, whom he has acknowledged as "one of the tennis world's greatest legends, " to make a swift and complete recovery soon.

Nadal is expected to recuperate for five months after successfully undergoing arthroscopic surgery, which has kept Nadal sidelined since this year's Australian Open, to check his left psoas muscle on Friday.

In his absence, Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are the favourites to win Roland-Garros this year.

On the other hand, Djokovic is searching for his third French Open title, which would see him go one Grand Slam ahead of Nadal in the all-time singles titles record on 23.

The 25-year-old Serb delivered his most comprehensive victory of the fortnight when he eased past Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to reach a record 17th Roland Garros quarterfinal on Sunday.

"It was his birthday yesterday, and he announced that he got his surgery, " Djokovic said in his press conference after reaching the French Open quarterfinals, as quoted by Eurosport.

"I got one surgery in my career on the elbow, and I know how hard it is to get back. It's just one of those things that you don't want any athlete to go through. Sometimes I guess it's necessary. For him it's been several times now throughout his career.

"I don't know what the severity of or the nature of his injury is, but, you know, if he got on a surgery table, it means there was no other solution. I really hope that his rehabilitation process can go well and that we can see him next season.

"I think that he's so important for our game on and off the court, one of the greatest legends of tennis in the history of the game. We want to see healthy Rafa, no question about it, playing for what he has announced his last season. You know, hopefully he's gonna be able to do that, " the Serbian said.

Djokovic will take on Karen Khachanov in the last eight in Paris on Tuesday.

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