World number one Novak Djokovic is hoping for one last matchup with the 14-time French Open champion at Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the Monte Carlo Masters has cast doubt over the 22-times Grand Slam champion’s participation at the French Open, but Novak Djokovic said he was still hoping for a final chapter in their storied rivalry.

The 37-year-old Spaniard, who has said he expected to retire after the 2024 season, returned to competition in Brisbane in January, after almost a year sidelined with a hip flexor injury, but has not played an ATP event since.

“As a tennis fan I want him to play at least one more tournament before he retires,” world number one Djokovic told Eurosport in an interview published on Saturday.

“We all know what he’s done on clay in his career, particularly Roland Garros.

“That’s his goal, we all know that, he’s been saying it. For the sake of all tennis and Roland Garros in particular, we hope that he can play there. It would be great to have another great encounter.”

Djokovic will begin his quest for a third title in Monte Carlo on Tuesday without coach Goran Ivanisevic in his box, after ending his highly successful partnership with the Croatian last month.

The Serbian has been working with former doubles world number one Nenad Zimonjic in recent weeks.

“We have known each other really well for more than 20 years. He’s been always like an older brother to me. A mentor, a friend, who always tried to help me as a person and as a player,” Djokovic said.

“When I stopped with Goran, I was starting my clay-court preparation in Belgrade and he was there. He came to the court, and we really enjoyed our collaboration, and I asked him to come here for a few weeks.

“We are trying to make the most of it. He’s been giving me really useful advice to find the proper position when I’m approaching the net, and it’s something I’m not best at because I don’t play as many doubles matches.”

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