In today’s article, we are going to try and divulge what traits does the Tennis World number 1, Novak Djokovic has, other than his outstanding physical abilities.
Starting off young, Djokovic has always shown characteristics of a future champion, he was dedicated, hard-working, attentive to couches suggestions and improving both in loss and victory.
Also, a big role in his career firstly had Pete Sampras, his childhood idol, who he saw lifting the Wimbledon title, giving him the inspiration and a goal to strive to.
During his early training days, he still lived with his parents on mount Kopaonik, where his family had a fast-food restaurant. There he saw their hard work and dedication to providing for him and his two younger brothers.
After being discovered by Jelena Gencic, he spent 6 years living in Belgrade’s estate Banjica, training his tennis skills and fitness, until, due to quick development and lack of competition, he was suggested to train under Nikola Pilic.
Teens & Junior career
Training in Germany for 4 years, Djokovic inherited their discipline and precision, remarked many times for overdoing his training, instead of going out partying, like other academy attendants. After only 2 years he already won many singles, doubles, and team competitions which were only the result of his hard work.
During his Junior days, he didn’t achieve many important tennis victories, reaching only the semi-finals on the Australian open, and still there was no sign that Djokovic might become the greatest of all times.
Early Professional Career
Beating both Andy Rodick, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the finals of the 2007 Rogers Cup in Montreal, showing the needed both mental and physical fortitude, which was especially noticed by Bjorn Borg, who said that Djokovic has just become a contender for Grand Slam titles. After that tournament he reached finals in the US Open, having 7 set points against Roger Federer, but still falling short to be mentally prepared to handle such decisive moments on the big stage, losing it in straight sets.
Djokovic came to Australian open in 2008 well prepared to take the title home with him. His whole family was there to support him, and it was a start of the season, which we cannot deny he comes best prepared at. Finally, in the semi-finals against Roger Federer, he let his mind go and released everything he had in him, winning in straight sets against the favoured opponent. After such a victory he even sealed the deal by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the finals after losing the first set.
In both 2009 and 2010 Djokovic felt like still falling short behind the big duo, Federer, and Nadal, but probably one of the biggest developing moments for Novak was the 2010 Us Open semi-final. He was back against the wall against Roger Federer, who had 2 match points on Novak’s serve. Djokovic then played 2 points that were out of this world, getting his grip back on the match, and ending it before the tie-break. In the finals, it felt like he was way too tired to overwhelm the always ready Nadal. What was special about this tournament is that it made an impression that something changed about Djokovic. He felt fresh on the court, committed to his goal, and did his best in the most decisive points. Many tennis analysts believe this was the turning point in Novak’s career, and he thinks so too. In an interview not so long ago, he said he couldn’t believe he has defeated Roger after being so close to losing. Everything seemed set up for one of the greatest years in tennis for Novak Djokovic.
In 2011, Djokovic went on a rampage winning 41 matches in a row, beating both Nadal and Federer multiple times. The most important thing is that in so many matches, when it was on the breaking point, Novak always had a gear up to push such points into his favor. Novak has finally made a statement that he was more than some occasional grand slam winner. He later pointed out that working with Dr. Igor Cetojevic helped him to improve a lot, working on focusing his energy, and ruling over it, instead of being its slave. He won 3 grand slam titles and also winning the Wimbledon title, which he dreamed about for so many years. Yet, it didn’t show on the court that Djokovic realized what happened if we compare the 2011 and 2014 winning reaction.
In 2012-2013, after winning the Australian Open, reaching every other semi-final at least, he seemed to have started to guess himself again. Losing 4 out of 6 finals and a big semi-final against Rafael Nadal in the French Open, felt like maybe he started feeling some kind of a pressure again. He didn’t feel as overwhelming as he did in 2011.
In 2014 Djokovic, even so, that he played excellently in the Australian Open, fell to Stan Wawrinka, who played out of his mind, having his revenge for the 2013 loss, also in the AO. On French Open, he again didn’t seem to be able to overcome Rafael Nadal on the big stage, losing again in the French Open finals. After winning Wimbledon against Roger Federer, he really let his emotions go and cried during the award ceremony, it felt like this was that big moment, unlike in 2011. On the US open 2014, Djokovic didn’t feel like the champion we know, ending up losing in the semi-finals, but there might have been another reason for that. Novak was about to become a father.
In 2015, after his child was born, something snapped in Djokovic. It almost felt like his whole approach to tennis had changed. He lost weight, started doing yoga, changed diet and started to implement some styles to his game that we didn’t see before. It almost seemed like he was a mental fortress, unreachable for many tennis players, even among top 10. Many say that the addition of Boris Becker brought Djokovic back on the old roadway to greatness.
It has been stated many times that he wants to prolong his career by learning from mistakes of his opponents. So in that manner, he decided to slim down and take it easy on his body. It seems to have worked because he won 4 straight Grand slam titles in a row. But, after that, it seems he lost the motivation again, even though many said he had private problems, causing him to be eliminated early on both Wimbledon and Olympic games.
In the end, only Djokovic and his mind remain, to solve the ever evolving puzzle that is the current tennis competition. In the years to come, many would like to see Djokovic beat Djokovic rather than his opponents, which might bring us the champion like we’ve never had before, one that would top them all. Will Novak Djokovic become the greatest tennis player of all times? This is the question that remains unanswered, but we have seen what instances of mental development he had to go throughout his career, pushing him further than maybe even he never thought would reach.