Novak Djokovic has named Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune as the ‘next Big Three’ and outlined what will have to happen for him to retire from tennis.
The great Serbian reiterated that he has no intention to leave the sport while he continues to win big titles, but admitted he will consider walking away once the young stars start to “kick my butt.”
Djokovic was sensational in earning an emphatic 6-3, 6-3 win against world No 4 Sinner in the final of the 2023 ATP Finals in Turin on Sunday.
The world No 1 also downed Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2 in the last four, while he started his campaign at the year-end championships with a three-set win over Rune. Sinner was the only player to beat Djokovic at the event, having earned his first win against the tennis legend with a three-set group stage triumph.
The 36-year-old, who will compete at the Davis Cup Finals this week, has had one of the finest seasons of his career in 2023. The 24-time Grand Slam champion has won seven tournaments, six of which were ‘Big Titles’ (Grand Slams, ATP Finals and Masters 1000s).
READ MORE: ATP Rankings: Novak Djokovic reaches incredible 400-week milestone and finishes as year-end No 1
Speaking following his victory against Sinner, Djokovic lauded the 22-year-old Italian and backed him for major achievements, while signalling his intent to keep playing.
November 14th: Sinner defeats Djokovic in the Round Robin.
November 19th: Djokovic defeats Sinner in the final.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 19, 2023
“What I said on the court for Jannik, I really mean it. Very nice guy. Great values. His family, entire team. He deserves his success. He needs to keep going because he’s definitely on the right path. I’m not the only one who is saying he can win Slams and be No 1 in the world,” he said in his press conference.
“I would be very surprised if that doesn’t happen. I don’t know if it’s next year or the year to come. He’s 22. He has a lot of time ahead of him. Rune, Alcaraz and him are the ‘Big Three – next ‘Big Three’, if you want to call them. They are going to carry this sport.
“I will hang on for as long as I feel like hanging on, as long as I’m, I think as long as I’m able to win against them on the big stage, I’ll still keep going because why stop if you’re still winning the biggest titles? Once they start to, yeah, kick my butt, then I will consider probably having a little break or maybe a permanent break from professional tennis.
“Yeah, Jannik, the Italian tennis is in good hands. I think Jannik is someone that is very professional, that loves his country. He does all the right things with his people. It’s great that we have World Tour Finals in a country that really loves tennis and loves sport.”
Djokovic and Sinner could face off for the third time in a short period at the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga, with Serbia and Italy projected to meet in the semi-finals.
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