Hear Novak Djokovic’s opponents explain why he’s so successful — why he’ll be chasing a fifth straight title and an eighth at Wimbledon on Monday; why he will try to establish a new mark with the conquest of a 24e Grand Slam title on the lawn of the All England Club – and you will get a panoply of answers.
His unique return of service in the world. His sharp two-handed backhand. Its flexibility. His stamina. His defensive game. His ability to read his opponents’ play, anticipate where the ball will go and return it with power – a combination, as Casper Ruud described after his loss to Djokovic in the French Open final, “which makes that it becomes, in a way, a veritable wall”.
Hear the Serbian explain why he’s achieved everything he does and why, at the age of 36, he’s still so menacing. He will offer you an abstract, very subtle answer, as he did in his victorious speech on clay in Paris a few weeks ago.
“I try to visualize every little aspect of my life and not just believe it, but feel it with every part of my body. And I would just like to send a message to every young person today: live in the moment, forget the past, the future is inevitable, Djokovic said. But if you want a better future, then create it. It depends on you only. Believe it. Create it. »
Djokovic recalled that he set himself two inescapable goals, when he was just a seven-year-old boy who dreamed of a better future: to be number 1 in the world and to win Wimbledon.
He has already held the No. 1 position in the world for more weeks than anyone since the world rankings have been computerized, that is to say for more than 50 years. He will now try to join Roger Federer in winning an eighth Wimbledon title. Djokovic has 23 Grand Slam titles, one more than the injured Rafael Nadal and three more than Federer, now retired. “Those two guys practically obsessed me for 15 years,” Djokovic said.
Her 23 major titles also allow her to be tied with Serena Williams, who hung up her racket last year. Only Margaret Court, who has won 24 amateur and professional titles combined, has more.
“How far will he go? »
“Grand Slam titles are the ultimate reward. I don’t know how many more he has in reserve, but I know he can land several more, said Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic. It’s fascinating to watch, because sometimes you think, “OK, you’re now 23”. But he will again draw on his reserves to motivate himself to conquer a 24emaybe a 25e. Who knows how far it will go? »
But it wasn’t always that simple.
After winning his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2008, Djokovic enjoyed an 11 major tournament streak during which he lost four times to Federer or Nadal in the semi-finals or final. And his confidence was shattered.
“That’s when I started to doubt, to wonder if I had the potential or not, because you go far in a tournament, but you can never take the last step, a explained Djokovic. The more you stumble, the more questions you ask yourself, you know? »
And yet, with the same resilience that characterizes him on the court — “his mental strength is incredible”, as his first-round opponent in Paris Aleksandar Kovacevic put it — Djokovic has found ways to motivate himself and continue its progress.
The “Djoker” still does it today, and that is why he is considered by many (and not the world number 1, Carlos Alcaraz) as the favorite to win Wimbledon. Djokovic therefore still hopes to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to achieve a first Grand Slam in the same season.