Davidovich Fokina On Djokovic: 'He Has Everything Of Nadal & Federer'

  • Posted: Aug 16, 2023

Davidovich Fokina On Djokovic: ‘He Has Everything Of Nadal & Federer’

Spaniard fresh off run to Toronto semi-finals

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina grew up following the career of Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard watched as the Serbian star battled against the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, ultimately clawing from consistent World No. 3 to the man with the most weeks atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in history (389).

On Wednesday evening, the 24-year-old will face Djokovic in the second round of the Western & Southern Open.

“I wanted to one day play against him and obviously if I can beat him, for me it would have been a dream. I think it is the same now,” Davidovich Fokina told ATPTour.com. “If I can win this match tomorrow, for me it’s a dream because in the end you don’t win against these guys every day.”

It will be the pair’s fifth Lexus ATP Head2Head clash, but the opportunity to face someone like Djokovic never gets old for the World No. 23. He will also take confidence from a three-set upset of the Belgrade native last year in Monte-Carlo.

“I remember that I was dominating him very good. And in the middle of the second set, he broke me back. When he won the second set, he was on fire. But I just was [focussed] on being on court, to play against him and to be focussed on every ball,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I think that the key to win was to be focussed in every point.

“It doesn’t matter the result, you forget about the result. You have to play against him because at the end, he’s a legend. And you don’t play every day with these types of guys.”

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Davidovich Fokina paid the ultimate respect to Djokovic when describing his game.

“He has everything of Rafa and Federer. His body is so elastic and he can be very, very solid and he has the weapons to push you to make errors. Then he has winners. He’s very good serving,” Davidovich Fokina said. “But the key of his is that he sees the match very good. The moment of the match, he knows how to [judge what he needs to do] very good.”

The 2022 Monte-Carlo finalist has watched countless matches played by Djokovic. But he has learned from experience that watching the 23-time major winner is a lot different than facing him.

“When I watch on TV, I don’t have that pressure. And when I’m on court, at the end I want to win badly,” Davidovich Fokina said. “Now I’m more focussed on enjoying every point and to keep pushing myself to the limit and to see what I can do.”

Last week in Toronto, Davidovich Fokina explained how important reading has become to shaping his more positive mindset. The Spaniard feels it is important to smile on the court, for example.

That attitude paid off at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, where he advanced to the semi-finals with victories over Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud.

“It helped to give me a lot of confidence to beat the top guys. It gives you a lot of power, a lot of confidence, a lot of strength to focus for the next match,” Davidovich Fokina said. “This week for me, it’s like a new challenge. Because always when I do a good result, the week after is a little bit tougher for me. But I think I am prepared because I am better mentally.

“I know that it’s going to be Novak Djokovic next and it’s going to be a very, very tough match. But I think I’m prepared now to face him and to try to beat him.”

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If reading books helped Davidovich Fokina in Toronto, perhaps chess will be his lucky charm in Cincinnati. The Spaniard has enjoyed games over the board in the players’ lounge and also recently began playing the game on his phone.

“I quite like it. It’s a lot of strategy and it’s more similar to tennis. In the end you have to move one piece to know what to do in the next one. It’s like in tennis: You will go forehand cross to go down the line after,” Davidovich Fokina said. “It’s a lot of strategy and [you learn] to be more patient, to not rush to one movement.

“If you are anxious or you are not that calm to play that point, you’re going to have mistakes that aren’t forced.”

Davidovich Fokina knows he cannot afford an abundance of unforced errors Wednesday against Djokovic. No matter the challenge, he is looking forward to the opportunity to play the Serbian again.

“[My win] was last year and on clay. On hard it’s different, but it’s going to be fun,” Davidovich Fokina said. “It’s going to be fun to watch. And for sure, we will enjoy playing against each other.”

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