Why 2024 Could Be Novak Djokovic's Retirement Year

Why 2024 Could Be Novak Djokovic's Retirement Year

by Nurein Ahmed

At the start of 2024, tennis fans were left pondering the possible challengers in Novak Djokovic's inexorable march to a potential Calendar Golden Slam.

The man himself entertained the idea of winning all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in the same season—a feat that was only achieved by WTA legend Steffi Graf in 1988 and which is considered the hardest task to accomplish in professional tennis.

Even for a player who has made a career of doing the impossible and revitalizing the concepts of physics and biology, his optimism of winning a Calendar Golden Slam at the age of 36 (to turn 37 in May) felt like an overzealous reaction.

But if you were to handpick one player to do it, then it had to be Novak Djokovic. He is the definition of inevitability. Now, with one-third of the season gone, the landscape has changed. The projections, too. And maybe Djokovic's playing career is teetering towards a silent end.

They say where there's smoke, there's fire, and the succession of events in the last six months suggests that the Serbian is planning his official detachment from the sport at the end of the current season.

Djokovic has not revealed his long-term future in the game but has shaken off retirement questions by stating that he is still at the top of his game and sees no reason to quit. Moreover, he feels that he has the competitive groove to challenge the newer generation.

That was his take during this year's Australian Open before he lost in the semifinals to Jannik Sinner - the ATP's newest big-name star. But like every great dancer knows when to exit the stage, Djokovic is potentially making some of his late moves, and here's why.

Personnel Changes

When Djokovic gears up to play at this year's clay swing, he will be without some key people within his coaching and business team. Last year, he split from his longtime business agents, Edoardo Artaldi and Elena Cappellaro, the Italian couple who have been by his side for over a decade.

This week, he made a stunning announcement of parting ways with coach Goran Ivanisevic, a man who has been a pillar in his march to greatness. The possibility of hiring a part-time coach will intensify speculation that he will not prolong his career for another year.

Limited On-Court Appearances

In recent years, Djokovic has cut down his participation in ATP events by nearly half. Last year, he played just 12 ATP events. This season, that number might even be in the single digits. As he gets older, the need to preserve his body for important tournaments remains his priority.

Developing His Personal Brand

The biggest tennis players are usually adept at developing an off-court brand. Roger Federer and Serena Williams, for example, have remained relevant even after retirement thanks to their strong brand portfolios that extend far beyond tennis.

Djokovic is looking to do the same. This year, he launched his own sports hydrating drink, "SILA by Novak Djokovic," in partnership with Waterdrop. He is already the most successful tennis player of all time, with career earnings nearing $200 million. Now, his aim is to develop his off-court brand and he is already doing it.

Parents And Family Wish

Tennis players' lives are extremely demanding, with over 30 weeks spent touring around the world. For parents, it is an even bigger challenge. Djokovic has the luxury of traveling with his family, but not all the time.

This year, he was forced to take an extended break after the Australian Open to be with them. He withdrew from Miami to balance his professional and private life. His parents are content with what he has achieved so far and wish he had retired years ago. Maybe he will give them their wish in 2024.

Prioritizing Olympics Over Wimbledon

Rumors are swirling that Djokovic might skip Wimbledon to better prepare for the Paris Olympics, which is seen as his last feasible chance to win a gold medal.

If that report is indeed true, it will mean that the Serb is determined to win the one title missing from his resume. At the same time, Djokovic will feel at peace knowing that his Grand Slam record haul is secured and not obsessing about losing it.


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