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Rafael Nadal fears Novak Djokovic quarter-final clash could be ‘final match of career at French Open’ aged 35

, Rafael Nadal fears Novak Djokovic quarter-final clash could be ‘final match of career at French Open’ aged 35

RAFAEL NADAL admitted his quarter-final showdown with Novak Djokovic could be the final French Open match of his career.

The 35-year-old set up the mouth-watering last-eight clash by coming from behind to beat Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal is aware he doesn’t know how long he has left of his tennis career
The Spaniard takes on Novak Djokovic in the French Open quarter-finals on Tuesday

And that sees the No5 seed and 13-time champion face long-term rival Djokovic in the quarters on Tuesday.

Nadal has battled injuries throughout his stellar career and suffers from Mueller-Weiss Syndrome, an incurable and chronic condition in his foot.

He considered retiring at the end of last year when he had surgery before incredibly bouncing back to win the Australian Open for his record-breaking Grand Slam No21.

However, the Spaniard is well aware he is in the latter stages of his life on the tennis tour – and does not know how long he has left to compete before his body says enough is enough.

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, Rafael Nadal fears Novak Djokovic quarter-final clash could be ‘final match of career at French Open’ aged 35

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, Rafael Nadal fears Novak Djokovic quarter-final clash could be ‘final match of career at French Open’ aged 35

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So the King of Clay is taking nothing for granted ahead of a 59th clash with 20-time major winner and reigning French Open champ.

Nadal said: “I am in the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros. I am just enjoying the fact I am here for one more year.

“Being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if it’s going to be my last match here in Roland Garros, in my tennis career. That is the situation now.

“But ultimately they’re special matches in a special setting and I’ll give it my best.

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“I went through a tough process again with my foot. I do not know what will happen in the near future with my career, so I am just trying to enjoy and fight as much as I can to keep living the dream.

“I hope to give myself a chance to play at the highest level possible and then let’s see.”

Nadal won his first Roland Garros title way back in 2005 aged just 19 and yesterday’s victory took his overall record on the Paris red clay to a staggering 109-3.

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Two of those defeats have come against Djokovic – in the 2015 quarters and in an epic in the semis a year ago as Nadal struggled with his foot.

And many are predicting Djokovic to complete a hat-trick of wins with teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz likely meeting the winner in the last four.

Nadal added: “In this case, perhaps together with our match in 2015, they’re the two matches that I face Djokovic here and he leads as the clear favourite.

‘WEARY AND TIRED’

“I am aware of what can happen and I am aware that it may be my last game in this tournament.”

Former world No1 and 18-time Grand Slam winner Chris Evert believes Nadal “sounds weary” and his career is coming towards its end.

She told Eurosport: “He is sounding weary.

“There is so much more that comes with being a professional tennis player than playing a match, but he sounded tired.

“The respect I have for him because he is 35 years old and he can keep getting psyched up every single day for these matches.

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, Rafael Nadal fears Novak Djokovic quarter-final clash could be ‘final match of career at French Open’ aged 35

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“I am sure with the injury, I don’t want to say he is falling apart, but you get a little more affected by the playing and training.

“It is going to happen, whether it is next year, two years, three years. I would not give him more than two or three years to play tennis.”

, Rafael Nadal fears Novak Djokovic quarter-final clash could be ‘final match of career at French Open’ aged 35

The Spaniard lost the semi-final a year ago to Djokovic as he struggled with his foot

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