Boris Becker has urged Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to keep playing for at least another “couple of years” as he lauded their impact beyond tennis. The six-time Major champion also shared a unique role he thought each member of the Big Three could take on in their retirement, with Roger Federer already having called it a day last September.
Becker has been enjoying having his say on the Big Three and their ongoing GOAT debate this week after his old charge Djokovic set a new all-time record for most weeks at world No 1 with 378 and counting. Having already tipped Nadal to regain his lead of Grand Slam titles at the French Open, the German has now given his take on their rivalry and pleaded with the two stars to keep competing.
“I think that Djokovic, along with Nadal and Federer, go beyond being sporting icons, they are cultural icons,” the former world No 1 said of the Big Three, speaking to Eurosport. And he shared a unique job role he thought all three men could take on in retirement, adding: “Each of them could perfectly be the president of their respective countries, they have followers that go far beyond their respective countries: Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.”
Becker then turned his attention back to the two remaining active members of the Big Three, adding: “The impact they have on tennis is huge, we will only truly understand it when they retire. God willing, I hope Novak and Rafa play for at least a couple more years as we will all benefit from that, not just tennis but sport in general.”
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His words come as Nadal is currently sidelined by a leg injury he picked up at the Australian Open, with the Spaniard recently announcing that he had withdrawn from Indian Wells and Miami – delaying his comeback until April at the earliest. Despite his physical woes, Becker believes the 36-year-old will be back to his best on his favourite surface, the clay.
“The next major is Roland-Garros where, in my eyes, the favourite still is Rafael Nadal. But Novak is on his heels. So let’s see what these two great champions will deliver for us,” the German – a three-time semi-finalist in Paris – also said.
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Djokovic himself has also recently talked up his rivalry with Nadal, sharing his wish to face the 14-time French Open champion in the final of the clay-court Major with both men currently tied on 22 Slam titles each – the men’s singles record. “The rivalry that counts the most matches in the history of any rivalry in tennis,” the world No 1 told reporters in Serbia last week.
“I would like to meet in the Roland Garros final, if I could choose, I believe we would both sign it now.”
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