Novak Djokovic has persistently spoken about the physical challenges he is facing to stay at the top of the game and now he has admitted he is battling against the clock as he tries to win his first US Open title since 2018.
At the age of 36, Djokovic is competing against rivals who have youth on their side, with defending US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz some 16 years younger than his great rival.
While the level of Djokovic’s tennis remains remarkably high, the 23-time Grand Slam legend has admitted the battle he faces to prepare for matches has changed as he reaches the back end of his career.
“I would just say it’s different, you know. I said not in a way that recovery is more difficult nowadays than it was 10 years ago. It’s just different,” he declared.
“I have to have an approach that is different from what it was 10 years ago.
“I have to adapt to my, you know, to my life and changes. I’m the father of two children, a lot of things are happening off the court that are obviously part of my life that affects me in one way or another, my mental state, my emotional state.
“You know, I need to know how to handle all of these things and create a formula that works. So far, so good.”
The extensive team that supports Djokovic add to his armoury when he gets on the court, with his carefully managed diet, yoga and fitness regime all part of his excellence.
“I must say that I have really a lot of people around me, you know, in terms of the medical, you know, fitness, and physiotherapy, kinesiology, you know, aspect to make sure that my body is recovered and is in shape in order to compete at the highest level,” he stated.
“Mentally there is probably a lot more that I’m dealing with in my private life than it was the case 10 years ago. But that’s the beauty of life, you know. Things are evolving and moving on.
“I just feel that there is always, I guess, an extra gear that you have inside of you and you can find when you dig deep to handle, you know, and manage energy levels on and off the court if you’re really devoted to that and if you care about it, if you pay attention to that mental aspect as much as physical, of course.
“Because for quite a few years actually mental training was not really talked about much generally in the tennis world. And, you know, mental health is a subject that is quite talked about in the last, I would say, three, four years, which I’m glad.
“You know, it needs to be out there, it needs to be, you know, addressed in a proper way so that the players have a proper understanding of what they are going through and then have help and, you know, guidance, necessary guidance for them to overcome certain obstacles.
“At the end of the day, we are also people that are also, you know, have to deal with the private issues that everyone has, but then on that high level of individual sport, a lot of things, relationships with your close ones, can affect how you feel on a decisive point, you know.
“That’s why it’s so important to address everything holistically, multidisciplinary, so to say, because then you will just be more prepared. You will have more tools that you can use in a given moment.”
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