Novak Djokovic has fired a confident warning to his rivals, including the likes of Rafael Nadal, ahead of next week’s Paris Masters. The world No 7 has just two tournaments left of the season and is feeling better than ever, having won two titles in a row after a lengthy break from the tour.
Djokovic was unable to play the entire North American hard-court swing as a result of his unvaccinated status but he hasn’t let that affect his game as he returned at the Tel Aviv Open a month ago and won the title without dropping a set, before then lifting another trophy the following week in Astana. He will now play the Paris Masters and ATP Finals before the end of the season.
And the 35-year-old is full of belief after winning back-to-back titles, with his last defeat coming in the French Open quarter-final back in June. It will come as worrying news to the rest of the field in Paris next week, with Djokovic arguably fresher than anyone after an unexpected three-month stint away from competition during the tournaments in America.
“I’m going to Paris. I am preparing for the last two tournaments of the year, the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals. I feel good,” the 21-time Grand Slam champion told Sportal. “These last two competitions, in Astana and Tel Aviv, and the titles won have raised my level of confidence as well as my motivation.”
The Serb is the reigning champion in Paris after defeating Daniil Medvedev in last year’s final, while he crashed out in the semi-finals of the 2021 ATP Finals after going undefeated in the round-robin stage. While it has been a season like no other for Djokovic, his rivals have been warned that he is full of motivation to end it on a high.
Djokovic’s words also come as a caution to Nadal, who will be returning to action in Paris after being sidelined since the US Open. The Spaniard sustained a 7mm abdominal tear at Wimbledon and was still feeling the effects in Flushing Meadows as he lost in the round of 16.
With the exception of one Laver Cup doubles match appearance alongside Roger Federer for the Swiss star’s last dance, Nadal has not been seen on the tour since early September as he recovered from his injury and welcomed his first child with wife Mery Perello. But his coach confirmed that he would be back in action for the last two events of the season.
“Before arriving in Turin, you have to play matches in Paris, which are similar,” Carlos Moya told IB3. Addressing the fact that Nadal has never won the Paris Masters or the ATP Finals, he added: “He has not been able to win it, but he has achieved good results and has come close to doing so on several occasions, We always have hope and illusion, because Rafael is competitive anywhere.”