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Djokovic on Next Big 3 and Nadal Absence

By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Rafael Nadal's absence from Monte-Carlo is a loss for tennis, but opens winning opportunity for the rest of the field says Novak Djokovic.

World No. 1 Djokovic met with the media in Monte-Carlo ahead of his comeback match on Tuesday.

TN Q&A: James Blake

Asked what the absence of 11-time Monte-Carlo champion Nadal means for the tournament, Djokovic said every other player now feels they have a shot with the king of clay MIA.

“It's a loss for the tournament and for tennis in general, because he is what he is, by far the most successful clay player of all time,” Djokovic said of Nadal. “But on the other hand, I think it's an opportunity for all of us, when he's not there, to try to go far and win a title.”

While the unvaccinated Djokovic wasn’t permitted in the USA to play the Sunshine Doubles, he was watching some of the matches from Miami and Indian Wells. 

The Serbian superstar said he’s continuously impressed by two young stars who beat him last year–Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune–and suggests Alcaraz, Rune and two-time Miami finalist Jannik Sinner may well prove to be the next Big 3.

"It's amazing for our sport to have a champion like Alcaraz. And he's so young,” Djokovic said. “It's also refreshing to have another great rivalry that people are passionate about, the one between him and Jannik Sinner.

"We saw exciting matches between them in Indian Wells and Miami. I'm sure those two guys, along with Holger Rune, will be the leaders. It may be the next Big 3.”

Photo credit: Getty