Gearing up for his 64th Grand Slam campaign, Novak Djokovic has had some practice at peaking at the right moments. This time will be no different, the World No. 1 told media, although the stakes are now higher than ever as he targets his record-tying 20th major title at Wimbledon.
The top seed opened up in his pre-tournament press conference about the mental and physical toll of winning two Grand Slams this year – especially at Roland Garros, where he doubled his win count to become the first man in the Open Era to win every Grand Slam title twice.
“The level of confidence is pretty high [after] winning the two majors this year, playing very well in Roland Garros,” Djokovic said. “That tournament took a lot out of me, mentally and physically and emotionally. It also granted me with an incredible amount of positive energy and confidence that created a wave that I’m trying to ride.”
To achieve the historic feat in Paris, Djokovic had to overcome huge tests including a comeback from two sets to love against Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round. He passed possibly the biggest mental hurdle of all as he defeated Rafael Nadal, the 13-time winner and four-time defending champion, in the semi-finals. That’s before he pulled off another stunning comeback after being down two sets in the final to take down Stefanos Tsitsipas for his second Coupe des Mousquetaires.
After making history, it was back to business as usual for Djokovic, who began his grass-court preparations in earnest at the ATP 250 Mallorca Championships in doubles.
“I did not allow myself, I cannot allow myself to enjoy that victory too much because four days later after I won the title I was on the grass courts training,” Djokovic revealed. “I didn’t have too much time really to reflect on what has happened in Paris. That’s how it is. That’s the tennis season and tennis schedule. I turn the next page.”
Djokovic, who has lifted the trophy at the All England Club five times, has made it no secret that his target is a sixth gentlemen’s singles title to make it three major titles in a row in 2021. Not only would this bring him one step closer to a Calendar-Year Grand Slam, a feat no man has accomplished since Rod Laver in 1969, a victory would bring Djokovic to a 20th Grand Slam trophy – tying the all-time record shared by Roger Federer and Nadal.
Win or lose, Djokovic will leave the debates for “most” and “greatest” to the pundits and critics. The World No. 1 said he is determined to block out the noise and focus on the task at hand, one day and one match at a time.
“I understand that people love to debate who is the greatest, who is going to have the most titles, et cetera, et cetera,” he said. “There’s always a lot going on off the tennis court.
“But once I’m on the court, I try to lock in and I try to exclude all the distractions. I feel like over the years, I managed to develop the mechanism that allows me to do that. Everyone has their own special ways to center themselves, how to focus themselves, really direct the energy into what matters the most, which is the present moment.
“I have my own techniques, my own ways. It has been working so far, so I’ll try to keep on doing that. Here in Wimbledon particularly I need to just take it day by day and see how far it goes.”
Will Djokovic complete the calendar-year Grand Slam?
Top seed Djokovic will take on Great Britain’s Jack Draper in the first round on Monday 28 June, as he opens the action on Centre Court.