Novak Djokovic admitted his body needed time to recover from his remarkable win against Carlos Alcaraz in the Cincinnati Masters final, with an alternative sport helping him to get ready for the US Open.
Speaking in an engaging on-court interview as he was hitting balls, Djokovic revealed more than expected about his preparations for a first match at the US Open since 2021.
The nearly four-hour epic contest against Alcaraz in Cincinnati pushed his 36-year-old frame to breaking point and he confirmed he had some time away from the court in the days after the Cincinnati classic.
“I had a couple of days off and didn’t play tennis because I really needed that,” admitted Djokovic.
“The tournament in Cincinnati went all the way through for me and I had that gruelling four-hour match with Carlos. I had some practice sessions arranged for Tuesday, but we decided to modify the schedule and change things around.
“I played some golf in New Jersey, took some time off and I’m ready to go. Best of five matches coming up and hopefully seven matches over the next two weeks. I’m going to get ready for it.
“Now I am getting used to the conditions in here (in New York) and we have lots of different things coming up in the next few days.
“I am collecting the vibe from New York City. There is no better city to give you energy in the world and hopefully I can do that for the next few weeks.”
Djokovic went on to suggest the conditions at the US Open will be different than what he experienced in Cincinnati, as he suggested the US Open balls may change the dynamic of the final major of the year.
“The balls are heavier and they have more fluff on them,” he added.
“In Cincinnati, I felt the balls were flying like bullets. It was very bouncy conditions, very quick and hard to control.
“It feels like the court is slightly faster here than in Cincinnati, but the balls appear to be a bit slower.”
Djokovic went on to give away some secrets of his stringing and was then asked why he was not out of breath as he was doing a live interview while also hitting balls, which inspired this wonderful reply:
“Tennis is so easy for me!” he said, before bursying out with laugther.
Respected tennis coach Brad Gilbert, who was part of Coca Gauff’s team as she won in Cincinnati last week, suggested Djokovic’s greatest quality is his ability to control his own body and manage his workload at the back end of his career.
“He played in cool conditions in Cincinnati all week and then he faced the toughest challenge,” said Gilbert.
“Forget the opponent (Alcaraz in the final) as he played his first day match and the temperatures were in the high 90s.
“He looked completely out of gas late in the first set, but his ability to manage himself and come back would be astonishing at 20, but he is doing it at 36.”
Djokovic is clearly in bouyant mood ahead of his US Open return and his joyous interview on court confirmed as much.
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