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Djokovic eliminated tennis’ top young stars. They are not prepared to play at their level all the time.

Date: December 6, 2023 Time: 08:09:48

Last Sunday, Novak Djokovic won a record seventh ATP Finals Championship title, surpassing Roger Federer’s achievement. In the playoffs, the 36-year-old Serbian defeated two of the main talents of the youngest generation born in the 21st century: Carlos Alcaraz, 20, and Jannik Sinner, 22. Novak continues to prove that when he is at his best moment, he is willing to take on everyone, including stars of the generation 15 years his junior, especially when they are not 100% prepared.

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That said, of course, Djokovic doesn’t dominate consistently. Sinner himself defeated him at the beginning of this tournament, in the second round of the group stage. After that, Yannick could have lost in the third group match to Holger Rune and taken the Dane to the playoffs, leaving Novak out of the tournament and thus influencing its result, but Sinner did not “quit” the game, and in In the elimination matches the Serbian was already unstoppable. Novak flourished during the competition: the level of his tennis in the group stage was incomparable to that of the semi-finals and finals. Both Alcaraz and Sinner did not last two hours, adding only 11 games between them. At the same time, this same Carlos beat Novak in this year’s epic Wimbledon final, and then almost defeated him in the Cincinnati Masters final, where they fought for almost four hours; It was the longest three-set final in ATP history (3 hours 49 minutes).

Alcaraz has long been considered by many, including the author of this article, to be the most talented player of his generation, and Carlos, unlike many talents from previous generations who are older than him but younger than Djokovic, has shown repeatedly the validity of his this opinion. The Spaniard has already won two Grand Slam tournaments, four Masters, he became the youngest world number one in the history of men’s tennis and also finished last season in first place in the ranking.

It must be taken into account that for Novak himself the last season was very difficult, which caused a sharp drop in the standings (the Serbian fell to eighth place and finished fifth). Djokovic was scandalously deported from Australia, where he was due to defend his title at the Australian Open, was not allowed entry to the United States due to his reluctance to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and the only Grand Slam tournament he won, Wimbledon, was not did. bring a single qualification point due to With the decision not to allow entry to Russian and Belarusian tennis players, the ATP and WTA, we recall, imposed sanctions in response, depriving the oldest of points for qualification. Of course, all this helped Carlos rise to first place after winning the US Open and remaining the leader until the end of the season, despite the injury suffered shortly before the Championship Final.

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

This season, by the way, Djokovic also did not play in all the major tournaments, reaching only 10 mandatory competitions, and in total 13. Two Masters, held in the United States in the first part of the season (Indian Wells and Miami). Novak missed out due to the same Covid restrictions for unvaccinated foreigners, which were not canceled until late spring, and he did not attend similar tournaments in Madrid, Toronto and Shanghai on his own initiative. However, a brilliant performance at the Slams (three titles and a final), added to two Masters titles and a victory in the Final Championship, allowed Djokovic not only to finish in first place, but also to do so with a decent margin: separated from Alcaraz, who placed second by almost 2,400 points. Sinner was left behind by almost 5,000 points, and Daniil Medvedev, located between Carlos and Yannick, by more than 3,500 points.

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Of course, Novak has great experience and experience in battles with other best tennis players in history – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. With all due respect to the next generations of players, no one yet comes close to the level at which the Big Three played in their heyday. Djokovic knew how to reach the top in the conditions of this fierce competition, he grew and progressed, adapting to the tennis of Federer and Nadal, finding and exploiting his weaknesses. As a result, Novak became a kind of Terminator of tennis, demolishing all less skilled opponents who, in his context (as well as in the context of Roger and Rafael), seemed mediocre.

Another critical element of Djokovic’s success is his dedication to tennis. It is clear that not even the most legendary athlete can maintain himself at the highest level without devoting endless hours to his preparation. This includes game training, physical training, daily routine, proper nutrition and other details. He may simply get tired of this, especially when he has already achieved almost everything and has not needed additional cash prizes for a long time, having become a multi-millionaire. However, the Serb continues to plow and stay in great shape. Of course, somewhere he takes breaks, short vacations during the season and, as can be seen even in his calendar this year, he even misses important tournaments, but this does not prevent him from reaching his best form for the “Helmets”, which are your first priority purpose.

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Novak’s motivation and psychology are also in perfect order.

Additionally, Novak is incredibly mentally strong. He may be the most mentally tough player in the history of tennis. Djokovic’s ability to recover for key rallies is at an incredible level. Nadal had a similar ability, but Djokovic at one point managed to find the keys to him. By the way, their confrontation is the longest in the history of the ATP circuit in terms of the number of matches: Novak leads personal meetings with a score of 30-29! Thanks to his ability to play decisive points with maximum concentration, the Serbian now often defeats younger tennis players in difficult matches.

There is another aspect that is directly related to both dedication to tennis and psychology. Even if he is a great champion, it is very possible that at some point he will “burn out” and find himself in a serious decline or even end his career. The most striking example in tennis is Bjorn Borg. The legendary Swede won 11 Grand Slam tournaments in the 1970s and early 1980s: five Wimbledons in a row (although initially as a clay court player) and six Roland Garros, but shortly after losing to John McEnroe in the Wimbledon final of 1981, he retired. As Borg himself admitted, it was like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders when he lost that final, ending his title streak. He never returned to Wimbledon as a tennis player, although at the time of that final he had just turned 25. At the same time, Bjorn’s 11 major titles remained the Open Era record until Pete Sampras’ 14 wins, which was then, in turn, surpassed by all members of the Big Three. Imagine how much Borg could win if he had Djokovic’s psychology?

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Novak remains motivated for the coming seasons. At the final press conference in Turin, he half-jokingly noted that to get through next year better than this one, he needs to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic Games. Olympic gold is the only major prize in tennis that Djokovic does not have. He won every other major tournament and more than once. Of course, the Olympics for tennis players do not mean as much as for representatives of most other Olympic sports (except perhaps football players), but a victory there would be the last missing brick in Novak’s career. And winning all four majors in one year would be the greatest achievement not achieved in men’s singles in more than half a century (since 1969, when Rod Laver won the Slam). Of course, achieving this at the age of 37, which Djokovic will turn in May, before Roland Garros, would be truly crazy, but Novak will definitely at least try to do it.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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