Novak Djokovic still has a burning desire to play tennis after racking up his 800th career win.
The Serb beat Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s, becoming just the 10th player in the open era to reach the landmark.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the other two of those players that are still active and despite two years of struggle, both with fitness and results, Djokovic has no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.
“It’s a milestone, and of course it’s a great achievement,” he said. “Every achievement is a great achievement. I should be happy for it and proud of it.
“When you work all your life for something and then you get rewards for it, of course it’s obviously very positive and I’m thrilled.
“I’m grateful, as well, as I’m able to play so many matches and to win so many matches in my career.
“It’s still the sport that I love with all my heart. I put in that heart every single day, and I’m just very glad to be able to play semi-finals here after Rome and Roland Garros tournaments that went pretty well for me.
Djokovic - 800 wins, 10th ever ATP player to achieve that.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) June 22, 2018
1. Connors, 1256
2. Federer, 1156
3. Lendl, 1068
4. Vilas, 949
5. Nadal, 903
6. McEnroe, 881
7. Agassi, 870
8. Nastase, 846
9. Edberg, 801
10. Djokovic, 800https://t.co/3g1Ijjkd06
“But before that, it was a struggle with surgery and elbow and up-and-downs and trying to figure things out and get that consistency in the game.
“So I’m really glad that I was able to play the way that I did in the first three matches in this tournament, and hopefully I can keep it going.
“I will play as long as I feel like playing and as long as I have support from up there and from down here.
“So hopefully I can have many more years, because I truly enjoy playing this sport.
“I’m just grateful because I’m able to do something that I really truly love and enjoy and be successful in.”
On this evidence against Mannarino, which followed an impressive win against Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday, Djokovic looks to be heading in the right direction and will be a contender at Wimbledon in a fortnight.
He has played down that suggestion but accepts he is building some momentum.
“Sincerely when I came back after surgery, I thought that it wasn’t going to take me too long to build that momentum, but obviously it was proven to be otherwise,” he added.
“It took me quite a few months to actually feel comfortable playing again on this level, back-to-back matches and playing consistently well. I’m just very excited to be able to win in straight sets against very good players.”
Andy Murray will continue his comeback in Eastbourne next week after asking for a wild card into the Nature Valley International.
The three-time grand slam champion made his return from nearly a year out with hip problems at Queen’s Club on Tuesday, losing narrowly to Nick Kyrgios in an encouraging performance.
Murray was waiting to see how he pulled up after the match before deciding where his next action would be, with exhibition contests at the Aspall Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club another option.
But the 31-year-old has decided to commit to another tournament and, with the field weaker at Eastbourne than Queen’s, Murray should have a decent chance of a first victory of his comeback.
The Scot said: “I’m looking forward to getting some more time on the grass courts at Eastbourne this week.
“I played Davis Cup there in 2006 and I know the courts and facilities there are excellent. It was good to get back to competition at Queen’s this week, and I’m hoping to build on that next week at Devonshire Park.”
Murray , currently ranked 156, has not played a tournament in the week before Wimbledon since 2006, when the event was held in Nottingham.
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman is the top-ranked entrant with Kyle Edmund set to be seeded second.
The news will boost hopes that Murray will be able to compete at Wimbledon. The two-time champion was unsure following the defeat by Kyrgios whether best-of-five-sets tennis was the right thing for his body at this stage of his comeback.
The world number one won an emotional first grand slam title at Roland Garros earlier this month but will go into Wimbledon without an official match on grass.
Halep wrote on Twitter: “I’m very sorry to announce that I’m withdrawing from next week’s Nature Valley International.
“I was experiencing Achilles tendon pain and inflammation during the French Open and it has yet to fully recover. I’ve been advised by my doctors that it needs more rest while continuing treatment. I loved competing at Eastbourne last year and hope to see you at this wonderful event next year.”
Halep’s withdrawal leaves four top-10 players in the field, including last year’s champion Karolina Pliskova and runner-up Caroline Wozniacki.
I’m sorry to announce that I’ve had to withdraw from Eastbourne next week. Below is my statement. I hope to see you there next year 😊 pic.twitter.com/U1Vta0pvNP
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) June 20, 2018