His breaks between two sets to go and recharge his batteries in the locker room were irritated, his relationship to the vaccine sparked debate, some of his political positions challenged but Novak Djokovic remains imperturbable.
While tennis fans have always preferred Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to him, the Serb has built up an extraordinary record and has lasted over time. By dominating a diminished Carlos Alcaraz at the start of the third set (6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-0), he reached a grand slam final for the 35th time and is aiming for a 23rd success this Sunday.
For the one who has long been considered the best raiser on the circuit, the evolution in the head has been the key. For Doctor Christophe Bernelle, author of the book Nadal, Federer, Djokovic: 21 matches to get into the minds of these champions and boost your mind at Solar editions, the Serb has been able to perfectly manage delicate situations over time.
"Tennis is a martial art from a distance, we hit each other and you have to know how to take them, it's a mental showdown because very often the players are all technically and tactically developed, but where a Djokovic stands out, it is that he knows how to be sufficiently relaxed in the decisive moments. Djokovic talked about the importance of yoga, meditation and breathing, he draws his strength from that. »
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The person concerned himself tried to explain the secrets of his success to still be so successful at 36 years old. “For you to be at the top of such a demanding individual sport, you have to know that everything matters, absolutely everything. How long and how you train, who you surround yourself with, how you eat, how you sleep, etc. All of this affects the end product, i.e. the results in the field. I am aware of it, and this awareness came over time, "confided the native of Belgrade in November 2021. Because before becoming an unshakable player, Djokovic knew how to put on a show on the courts, imitate some of his opponents to relax the atmosphere and even break rackets.
For Christophe Bernelle, Djokovic's partner, Jelena, encouraged him to change and turn to new means of preparation in order to improve. "She accompanied him in his singular methods. It helps him to feel better to become a better person, we have seen him evolve, he gets angry a lot less and gets more and more respect from his opponents. At 19, he made excuses when he failed, but during his loss to Daniil Medvedev at the 2021 US Open, which deprived him of a historic grand slam over a year, we saw him hugging his opponent. He seeks to weave more and more links. He's a whole different man today. »
Novak Djokovic thus went on a gluten-free diet, developed his own convictions and did not hesitate to go on a spiritual retreat for several days in Serbia. During this Roland Garros 2023, he was even seen with a strange patch on his chest. "It's supposed to improve balance, posture, muscle activation as well as focus and recovery," according to RMC.
Social networks and observers have not failed to be challenged by this mysterious little box. "My team uses fantastic nanotechnology that allows me to give the best of myself," assured the Serb, but several doctors interviewed by the press doubted the concrete impact of this patch.
But what counted above all in the durability of Djokovic at the highest level like his best rivals Nadal and Federer, was his total adherence to his sport. "He kept the pleasure of playing," says Christophe Bernelle. Despite all the entourage that can be a bit heavy, he knew how to round his back and focus on the essentials. Despite everything, Djokovic had a period where he wanted to stop everything but his wife convinced him to resume after his elbow surgery. The Serb was therefore able to count on two precious allies during his plethoric career: himself and his partner.