Nothing like a surprise retirement announcement to give the game’s Sweeps Week extra stakes, right?

Not so fast, as Novak Djokovic’s on-court interview got lost in translation. The polyglottonous world No. 1 typically knows his way around a phrase in close to 25 languages, but gave fans a scare when he seemed to imply his career would only last two more seasons.

It turns out “paio d’anni” can mean two, but can also mean “a couple,” extending the Serb’s nearly two decades on tour all but indefinitely for the time being.


“I don't know,” he said with a laugh in post-match press, fresh off hoisting his seventh ATP Year-End No. 1 trophy. “I thought couple of years playing at the highest level, why not? I mean, it would be great.

“Look, I don't have a number in my mind, you know, of the years I still want to play at this level. I don't have a limit. I don't want to impose a limit to myself at all, because I still enjoy playing tennis, and I really enjoy competition and playing at the highest level. Being No. 1 in the world, there is no reason for me yet to think about leaving tennis. You know, I really am in a good place at the moment.”

Being No. 1 in the world, there is no reason for me yet to think about leaving tennis. You know, I really am in a good place at the moment. Novak Djokovic


Djokovic has reason to feel optimistic; playing his 14th Nitto ATP Finals as the oldest man in the field, he held his own against the seven other 20-somethings for most of the week. The 34-year-old went undefeated in round-robin action against Casper Ruud, Andrey Rublev, and Cameron Norrie, winning all three matches in straight sets.

Though the five-time champion bowed out to rival Alexander Zverev in the semifinals, Djokovic remains in pole position to break the three-way tie between himself, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal for total major titles—particularly if he kicks off his 2022 season at the Australian Open.

“I still feel like I have years in my legs and in my heart and in my head,” he explained. “As long as that's the case, I'll keep going, because I truly love the sport and I enjoy the competition, because it keeps me going, challenges me, motivates me, and that's essential ingredients, so to say, for me to still keep on playing, because otherwise it will be very difficult to get up more or less every single day and train hard in order to stay at that highest level and compete for the biggest titles in sport and biggest achievements.”

In the meantime, Djokovic may do well to submit “paio d’anni” for review on Duolingo.