Novak Djokovic: Why cannot the following technology cease the Australian Open champion?
Shortly after 35-year-old Novak Djokovic despatched one other significantly youthful participant to win a twenty second Grand Slam title, his coach Goran Ivanisevic was requested how lengthy the brand new Australian Open champion might keep on the high degree.
The response in all probability despatched a chill by means of the remainder of the ATP Tour.
“Definitely two, three more years,” stated Ivanisevic, who has helped Djokovic win seven of his main titles.
“His level is unbelievable. He is from outer space. His brain is working different.”
Djokovic, who turns 36 in Might, confirmed all aspects of his greatness on the best way to beating 24-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s Melbourne last.
The Serb has gained 5 of the previous seven Grand Slams he has performed in, though this victory got here in a match the place Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz – the world primary earlier than the occasion and new chief of the following technology – was dominated out by means of damage.
BBC Sport analyses why Djokovic stays so tough for the youthful gamers to topple.
Just about each youthful opponent talks earlier than a match about treating Djokovic like some other opponent – taking part in the person and never the identify.
However what number of really imagine it and do not get overawed?
Greece’s Tsitsipas was the final of 4 gamers no less than a decade youthful than Djokovic to be overwhelmed by him in Melbourne.
Up to now 4 years Djokovic has misplaced solely 5 of the 45 matches he has performed in opposition to opponents below the age of 23.
Djokovic has gained six of his seven Grand Slam finals in that interval in opposition to gamers born within the Nineteen Nineties, with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev touchdown the youthful technology’s solely success within the 2021 US Open.
Tsitsipas insists Djokovic’s stranglehold on the youthful gamers is not a “curse”.
“I don’t see this as something annoying. This is very good for the sport, to have competitors like him, to have champions like him,” stated Tsitsipas, who has misplaced his previous 10 conferences with Djokovic.
Whether or not Tsitsipas sincerely thinks that may be a totally different matter. If he does, it appears like he’s an exception.
It has been telling that Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev and American Tommy Paul – the gamers whom Djokovic made gentle work of within the Australian Open quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively – mentioned the dread which gamers really feel when seeing his identify of their a part of the draw.
Rublev, 25, laughed when he stated after his last-16 win that he wished Djokovic was within the reverse facet – nevertheless it was no laughing matter as he turned more and more despondent on the best way to a straight-set beating.
“A lot of players have a lot of respect for his game,” stated 25-year-old Paul, who was additionally despatched in three units.
“No-one really wants to see him on their part of the draw.”
The on-court mentality
When the going will get powerful on court docket, Djokovic will get going.
That’s significantly related within the largest moments of the largest matches and is a key cause why he has gained 22 of the 33 Grand Slam finals he has performed.
Tsitsipas stated Djokovic, who saved 23 of 29 break factors throughout the Australian Open, together with two of three within the last, is a participant who “pushes you to your limits” on the court docket.
“He’s very important for us that want to get to his point one day. Getting our asses kicked is for sure a very good lesson every single time,” he stated.
“He has made me a much better player. He has made my levels of concentration higher and higher every single time I get to play him.
“It’s a must to be actually concerned and you must be devoted to the sport while you play in opposition to him.”
The approach and techniques
Everyone has a game plan going into a match against Djokovic. Executing against someone of his talent is another story.
As Paul put it after the semi-final, Djokovic can make them “play so dangerous”.
The American offered some insight into his tactics and how Djokovic neutralised those plans.
“I wished to serve and volley some. I did not serve and volley as soon as,” he stated.
“After I did make my first serve, I felt like he was returning it to the baseline. I used to be mechanically on defence.
“I wanted to throw in drop-shots. I didn’t get an opportunity to do any of that because he was hitting so deep.
“I wished to alter up tempo with my slice. I missed my first three slices of the match. I used to be like ‘all proper, I’ll begin hitting my backhand, I am not slicing effectively’.
“He didn’t let me do all those things because of things that he did so well.”
Djokovic has lengthy appreciated the necessity to deal with his physique to delay his profession and obtain success into his 30s.
He has frequently cited altering to a gluten-free food plan greater than a decade in the past as a recipe for his success.
Whereas he doesn’t think about himself a vegan, Djokovic steers away from consuming meat, fish and different animal-based merchandise.
Taking on yoga and a every day routine of stretches has been key in serving to keep the extraordinary elasticity which he continues to indicate when chasing down balls on the court docket.
“The way he’s taking care of his body, the way he approach about everything, the food, it’s amazing. It’s unbelievable, the level,” stated Ivanisevic.
When Djokovic outlined his causes final 12 months for not having a vaccination in opposition to coronavirus, he stated he wished to be “in tune with my body as much as I possibly can”.
He added he had “always been a great student of wellness, well-being, health, nutrition”.
With success comes scrutiny and Djokovic usually finds himself on the centre of drama – whether or not it’s of his personal making or not.
Final 12 months he was unable to defend his Australian Open title after being deported from the nation following a row over his Covid-19 vaccination standing.
Djokovic had additionally been hampered by a hamstring damage at Melbourne Park, which Ivanisevic reckoned would have dominated out “97% of the other players”.
“If I turn back the time two and a half weeks ago, I wasn’t really liking my chance with the way I felt with my leg,” stated Djokovic.
“Then it was just a matter of survival of every single match, trying to take it to the next round.”
One other curveball was thrown his approach earlier than Friday’s semi-final in opposition to Paul.
His father Srdjan was pictured exterior Rod Laver Enviornment with supporters of Russian president Vladimir Putin, creating an issue which Djokovic stated was “not pleasant” to take care of.
Nonetheless, he managed to place all these distractions behind him as he levelled Rafael Nadal’s document of males’s majors.
“It required an enormous mental energy really to stay present, to stay focused, to take things day by day,” Djokovic stated.
Few would wager in opposition to the world primary successful extra majors than some other participant within the historical past of the game, until Tsitsipas, Alcaraz or the remainder of the youthful technology – plus 36-year-old Nadal, set to go for a fifteenth triumph on the French Open in June – can cease him.
“Of course, 35 is not 25, even though I want to believe it is. But I still feel there is time ahead of me. Let’s see how far I go,” stated Djokovic.