Novak Djokovic targets Tom Brady like tennis feat amid call on when he'll retire

The world No.1 says he wants to follow in Tom Brady's footsteps and play into his 40s.

Novak Djokovic pictured left and Tom Brady pictured right
Novak Djokovic says he is taking inspiration from NFL great Tom Brady and wants to accomplish the same level of generational dominance as him in tennis. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic has revealed that he has no plan to retire anytime soon as he gears up for a massive 2024 campaign. The world No.1 says he has taken inspiration from NFL great Tom Brady and wants to play until he is at least 40 years old and likely beyond.

The 36-year-old is currently in Saudi Arabia where he faced world No.2 Carlos Alcaraz in an exhibition match on Wednesday night. Alcaraz came from a set down to beat Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Riyadh Season Tennis Cup in front of a host of Saudi royals.

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Before the match, the Serb said he wants to be like the greatest quarterback in NFL history and play into his 40s as he believes he is in his prime tennis years. "Why stop when you are still playing great? So I will keep going. I know (Tom Brady) personally as well, and I learnt from him, from his example, and, hopefully, I can have a career that goes up to 40 and maybe even beyond, let’s see," Djokovic told reporters on Wednesday.

"I feel great in my own body right now, and I have been playing some really high-quality tennis. 2023 was one of my best seasons I’ve had in my life. I will take it one by one and see how far I go."

Brady played for 23 seasons before retiring at 44 and Djokovic hailed the sporting legend as "a great example of a champion in his sport". "He has put a lot of hours, a lot of time, into self-care and recovery, making sure that every aspect of his body and mind is covered so that he can have a long-lasting and successful career," Djokovic said.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 11: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates with Tom Brady after his straight sets victory against Casper Ruud of Norway in the Men's Singles Final match on Day Fifteen of the 2023 French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2023 in Paris, France.. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic 'not friends' with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal

The tennis great recently revealed that he feels left out by Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal despite the trio sharing a historic rivalry. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Djokovic said he is desperate to build a relationship with his fellow tennis greats and hopes they can form a 'big three'.

"I would really like to," Djokovic said. "I mean, obviously, we didn't get along so well throughout our careers, off the court. And we are not friends because, you know, we're rivals, and it's difficult as competitors to be very close and kind of share and give insights to your life or to how you feel because it could be used against you.

"But we have shared the stage for so many years. And I think the greatest respect is always there, at least from my side, towards them. There's always a huge amount of respect off the court because they have really defined me as the player that I am today. And all my success is also greatly owed to them and to the rivalries that we had."

Djokovic welcomes GOAT debate

The debate over who is the greatest men's tennis player of all time (GOAT) is one that tennis fans continue to disagree on but it is one the Serb welcomes. Djokovic holds all the numerical records over Federer and Nadal, including most majors and most weeks spent at No.1 but some fans argue the style of play and conduct of Federer and Nadal must be taken into consideration.

Djokovic says as a whole the debate is great for tennis, however, believes it is near impossible to accurately compare players across eras. "There's obviously different definitions and opinions and comparing the eras," Djokovic said.

"Whether you take only numbers or stats, it's very difficult to compare obviously an era where you play with a wooden racquet and nowadays. And where they couldn’t travel by plane before so much and we can travel anywhere today and play more tournaments. So it’s all very relative.

"I know fans love it (the GOAT debate). And I think it’s great that there is a big discussion on that because, ultimately, all of us in tennis want more attention. We want more people, more younger generations to come in and get interested in watching tennis, debating about who is the greatest, who has the most titles, or comparing eras and stuff like that."

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