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Djokovic: Nadal, Federer 'Defined Me As A Player'

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2023

Djokovic: Nadal, Federer ‘Defined Me As A Player’

Serbian wins record 23rd major

After capturing a record 23rd major title at Roland Garros on Sunday, an emotional Novak Djokovic was full of pride when reflecting on his historic achievement.

The Serbian defeated Norway’s Casper Ruud in straight sets to become the first player to win all four majors at least three times.

“I knew that going into the tournament, going into the match especially today, that there was history on the line,” Djokovic said. “But I tried to focus my attention and my thoughts into preparing for this match in the best way possible to win like any other match.

“My team has created a good bubble around me. We did, I think, a great job in just staying into the present moment and performing as good as we wanted to. When I saw his forehand going wide, I felt a huge relief, and I was overwhelmed with wonderful emotions. I’m very happy and very proud of it.”

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With his victory, Djokovic moved one clear of Rafael Nadal (22 Slams) and Roger Federer, who retired last year having won 20 slam titles, in the major race.

The 36-year-old discussed his admiration for the Swiss and Spaniard when comparing achievements.

“I have always compared myself to these guys, because those two are the two greatest rivals I ever had in my career,” Djokovic said. “I have said it before many times that they have actually defined me as a player, and all the success that I have, they have contributed to it, in a way, because of the rivalries and the matchups that we had.

“Countless hours of thinking and analysing and what it takes to win against them on the biggest stage for me and my team. It was just those two guys were occupying my mind for the past 15 years quite a lot. In a professional sense. It’s amazing to know that I’m one ahead of both of them in majors.”

<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a>
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Djokovic’s title run in Paris, where he defeated Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, means he will return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday for a record-extending 388th week.

The Serbian was asked during his post-match press conference to reflect on where he stands in the game.

“When you talk about history, people mostly talk about the Grand Slams won or the amount of time you spent at the No. 1 ranking,” Djokovic said. “I have managed to break the records in both of these statistics, which is amazing.”

He later added: “I don’t want to say that I am the greatest, because I feel, I’ve said it before, it’s disrespectful towards all the great champions in different eras of our sport that was played in completely different way than it is played today. I feel like each great champion of his own generation has left a huge mark, a legacy, and paved the way for us to be able to play this sport in such a great stage worldwide.”

Djokovic, who has climbed to first in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, is still hungry for more. The Serbian is halfway to becoming the first man to win the Grand Slam — claiming all four majors in the same season — since Rod Laver in 1969. In 2021 the 36-year-old won the year’s first three majors before losing in the final of the US Open.

“The journey is still not over,” Djokovic said. “I feel if I’m winning Slams, why even think about ending the career that already has been going on for 20 years. I still feel motivated. I still feel inspired to play the best tennis on these tournaments the most… I look forward already to Wimbledon.”

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Ivanisevic: When Djokovic 'Reboots Software', It's Time For 'Bye-Bye'

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2023

Ivanisevic: When Djokovic ‘Reboots Software’, It’s Time For ‘Bye-Bye’

Croatian reflects on Djokovic’s Roland Garros victory

Coach Goran Ivanisevic was not concerned about Novak Djokovic’s Roland Garros chances despite his charge’s 5-3 start to the clay-court season.

“He has this software in his head that he can switch when a Grand Slam comes. [A] Grand Slam is a different sport comparing to other tournaments. He switches his software. The day we arrived here, he was better, he was more motivated, he was more hungry,” Ivanisevic said after Djokovic defeated Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final. “Every day he played better and better. I thought against Alcaraz one-and-a-half hours he played unbelievably smart and unbelievable tennis. And today he just finish what we started actually in Monte-Carlo, to practise, and now it’s payday. We cashed the cheque.”

During the trophy ceremony, Djokovic alluded to difficulty he had given his team throughout the fortnight. Ivanisevic confirmed that and joked about how the Serbian was able to work through it all to claim his record 23rd major title.

“He chained us with handcuffs for three days,” Ivanisevic said, cracking a smile. “He’s not [an] easy guy, let’s put it this way. He is not [an] easy guy. Especially when something’s not going his way. But we are here to put our back and to get beaten, you know. That’s what the team is for. We are here for him to feel better, for him to perform better. Sometimes [it is] not easy. Sometimes it’s very complicated.

“But overall, this is for what you live, the tournaments like this, the finishing like this. [It] was not easy. [It] was not [an] easy journey. You know we started in Monte-Carlo, Banja Luka. Rome was a little better but still away from his real form. He was torturing us, taking our nails off. A lot of more things but I cannot tell you that. But we are still here, we’re alive. My heart is still okay. I’m [an] old man, I need to be careful of my heart. So he’s okay.”

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Djokovic broke a tie with Rafael Nadal to become the men’s all-time leader in major trophies. Ivanisevic explained why he hopes to see the Spaniard back in the winners’ circle.

“I’m really sorry that Rafa is not here, but I said a long time ago before even I became member of his team that him and Rafa, they’re going to go over 22. I am hoping Rafa coming back winning one more, and Novak is [the] only player who can win [the] calendar Grand Slam,” Ivanisevic said. “He was one match away two years ago, so he has a chance this year.”

The most-anticipated match of the tournament was the semi-final between Djokovic and top seed Carlos Alcaraz. The two battled through two tight sets before cramp set in for Alcaraz, ultimately allowing Djokovic to surge ahead for a four-set victory.

“A lot of people [were] saying that Alcaraz is a favourite against Novak. You cannot say that. The guy played 33 Grand Slam finals. He won 22 Grand Slams. Alcaraz is the next unbelievable [player], he’s amazing. I love Carlos, and he’s going to win I don’t know how many Grand Slams,” Ivanisevic said. “But you cannot say that he’s a favourite. Yeah, he played better coming here. But this is [a] Grand Slam. This is nerves. You see what happened in the third set to him. And Novak knows. Novak knows. Novak waits.

“Like Roddick said, I read, he takes the legs, then he takes your soul, then he digs your grave and you have a funeral and you’re dead. Bye-bye. Thank you for coming.”

With that in mind, Ivanisevic believes Alcaraz and others will continue to challenge Djokovic. But the former World No. 2 still has faith in his player regardless of the situation.

“For sure he’s gonna be [a] threat. He’s going to be [a] threat on grass, he’s gonna be [a] threat on hard court, he’s gonna be [a] threat everywhere,” Ivanisevic said of Alcaraz. “But, it’s always this “but”, he’s still young. You know, you have Novak and you can’t ever bet against Novak.”

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Djokovic's Key Against Ruud To Earn Tennis Immortality

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2023

Djokovic’s Key Against Ruud To Earn Tennis Immortality

Brain Game analyses the Roland Garros final

The first set was the match.

Novak Djokovic defeated Casper Ruud 7-6(1) 6-3, 7-5 in the Roland Garros final on Sunday by withstanding a brutal onslaught in the opening set that left the Super Serbian doubled over in exhaustion after only nine games.

Djokovic was tight, and the ball was consistently out of his strike zone. Ruud was playing perfectly, and Djokovic was struggling mightily. Playing when tight extracts an immeasurable amount of extra energy from the body. Djokovic was not his usual self, yet he somehow found a way to win one of the greatest sets in Grand Slam final history.

Ruud led 4-1 in the opening set and had Djokovic on the proverbial ropes. The Norwegian could not finish what he started. Djokovic broke back trailing 2-4 by extracting two forehand errors and two backhand errors. He saved a break point at 3-4, 30/40, and finally ran away with the tie-break 7/1. It was a brutal set that quite possibly only Djokovic could have found a way to the finish line in.

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Djokovic stole the opening set by completely dominating the 0-4 rally length.

Set 1: Rally Length

  • 0-4 Shots: Djokovic 30/Ruud 12 (Djokovic +18)
  • 5-8 Shots: Djokovic 7/Ruud 17 (Djokovic -10)
  • 9+ Shots: Djokovic 10/Ruud 12 (Djokovic -2)

Djokovic created a substantial 18-point advantage in the opening set in the 0-4 shot rally length, winning 30 points, while losing 12. The longer the rally went, the more it favoured Ruud. The shorter the rally length, the more Djokovic got to breathe and recover to fight another day.

The average rally length in the opening set was a bruising 6.3 shots, which was much longer than the 4.9 shots in set two and 4.5 shots in set three. The primary tactic to finish points quickly for the Serbian was to go immediately to the net.

Djokovic Net Points Won

  • Set 1=11/15
  • Set 2=4/6
  • Set 3=5/6

Djokovic had to seek the refuge of the net in the opening set to avoid longer rallies where he lost more points than he won. Djokovic started tight, missing two drop shots in the opening return game, and a simple overhead in the next game that made him play more defensively than normal.

Against Alcaraz in the semi-finals, Djokovic could use the power of his opponent’s groundstrokes back against him. Against Ruud, the ball was slower and higher out of the strike zone, and Djokovic struggled to do anything to hurt his opponent. Combined with his tightness, Djokovic was expending maximum energy, and the ball was going anywhere.

Djokovic won 43 per cent (26/60) of baseline points in the opening set, while Ruud won 48 per cent (29/61). Djokovic and Ruud both hit 15 winners in the opening set, but that would signal the end of Ruud’s aggression in the match. Ruud only hit seven winners in the second set and nine in the third. By comparison, Djokovic ramped up his aggression, striking 15 winners in set two and a substantial 22 winners in the third set.

The shot that grew in importance for Djokovic was his forehand.

Djokovic Forehand Winners

  • Set 1 = 8 winners/13 errors = -5
  • Set 2 = 8 winners/8 errors = 0
  • Set 3 = 12 winners/8 errors = +4

The average rally length for the final was a substantial 5.4 shots, and once Djokovic got the first set under his belt, it was his aggressive forehand that he rode to victory.

Djokovic now stands alone with 23 Grand Slam titles. The opening set of today’s final may very well be one of the toughest physically and mentally he has ever had to withstand.

The reward is tennis immortality.

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Nadal Headlines Social Media Reactions To Djokovic's Historic Roland Garros Win

  • Posted: Jun 11, 2023

Nadal Headlines Social Media Reactions To Djokovic’s Historic Roland Garros Win

Laver, Del Potro also congratulate 23-time major winner

Rafael Nadal led the stars who quickly took to social media Sunday to congratulate Novak Djokovic on winning his record-breaking 23rd major title at Roland Garros.

“Many congrats on this amazing achievement @DjokerNole,” Nadal wrote. “23 is a number that just a few years back was imposible to think about, and you made it! Enjoy it with your family and team!”

Djokovic is also halfway to completing the Grand Slam by winning all four majors in the same season. The last man who accomplished that feat, Rod Laver (1962 and 1969), also shared his praise for the Serbian.

Plenty of other stars also shared their thoughts on social media.

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