How Djokovic Is Trying To Maximise His Peak
Novak Djokovic completed his second Career Golden Masters on Saturday by winning the Western & Southern Open. In doing so, the Serbian also extended his perfect start to the 2020 season to 23-0 and tied Rafael Nadal for the most ATP Masters 1000 titles with 35.
While making tennis history is important to Djokovic, he is focussing on the tasks at hand.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it and embrace the process. How long that journey is going to last and what kind of legacy I’m going to leave behind, that’s on somebody else to really judge and evaluate,” Djokovic said. “But I’m trying to do my best. Obviously on the court with the goals and ambitions that I have, obviously I want to play my best tennis in Grand Slams and [ATP Masters] 1000 events. That’s what I’m focussing on right now. And also off the court, trying to make the most out of the energy that I have preserved.”
Djokovic says that his unbeaten run has given him more confidence with each match. Seven of his victories this year have come against Top 10 opposition.
“I am trying to make the most of my career,” Djokovic said. “Trying to use this time when I feel that I am physically, mentally, emotionally, game-wise at the peak and playing some of the best tennis that I have ever played.”
The 33-year-old will chase his 18th Grand Slam title over the coming fortnight, which would move him within one major trophy of Rafael Nadal (19) and two of Roger Federer (20). At last year’s US Open, he retired during the third-set of his fourth-round match against three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. That broke a streak of 11 consecutive US Open appearances in which Djokovic made at least the semi-finals.
“I also struggled unfortunately last year with injury of the left shoulder, but it came at the wrong time, obviously, just as I was starting to play the US Open,” Djokovic said. “That’s [when] I started to feel it. I didn’t have obviously enough time to get to 100 per cent and hopefully go deep in the tournament.
“Even if I was 100 per cent, it’s still no guarantee I would win against Stan because he’s a phenomenal player and loves to play on a big stage and has beaten me in various Grand Slams and [on] various surfaces. But I always love playing in New York.”
Djokovic holds a 72-11 record in Flushing Meadows, where he is a three-time titlist. But for the first time, he won’t be competing in front of any fans.
“[Arthur Ashe Stadium] is probably the most exciting, energetic, dynamic, explosive tennis court that we have in the sport with the fans and [23,000] people that fit in on that court. So I really am grateful that I got to experience so many times in my career the wonderful feelings on that court,” Djokovic said. “It is strange to see empty stands. The circumstances are very unusual. But we have to accept that, we have to deal with it and try to embrace it.”
The World No. 1 has done well so far this year at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, lifting the Western & Southern Open trophy. He will look to keep that going at the US Open, starting with his first-round match against Damir Dzumhur (Djokovic leads ATP Head2Head 2-0).
“I think so far these couple of weeks that we have been here, the USTA and ATP and everyone involved has done a pretty good job making sure that we are safe and that we are able to compete,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully we can have another great two weeks and US Open.”