Novak Djokovic begins bid for Wimbledon title No. 8 – NBC New York

pay attention Novak Djokovic’s opponents Explain why he’s been so successful – why he’ll begin his quest for a fifth consecutive Wimbledon championship and eighth overall on Monday; Why would he try to claim the Open era-record 24th Grand Slam Trophy on the grass courts of the All England Club in the coming fortnight – and they will have plenty of answers.

His best serve return in the game. His dangerous two-handed backhand. its elasticity. his stamina. his rescue. His ability to read someone else’s intentions, reach where the ball is going and send it back with force, is how Casper Ruud described the combination after losing to Djokovic. French Open Final: “He kind of goes into this mode where he just becomes like a wall.”

Listen to Novak Djokovic explain why he did what he did and why, even at 36, he continues to do it, and he’ll offer a reason that’s far less convincing and far less noteworthy, He mentioned it during his victory speech at Roland Garros. weeks ago.

“I try to visualize every single thing in my life and not only believe it, but actually feel it with every cell in my body. And I just want to send a message to every young person out there: Be in the present moment; Forget what happened in the past; Djokovic said, the future is something that is just going to happen. “But if you want a better future, you create it. Take the instrument in your hand. Believe it. make it.”

Speaking about his hopes and dreams as a 7-year-old that day, Djokovic stated two primary goals: reaching No. 1 and winning Wimbledon.

She has already been No. 1 for more weeks than any man or woman in half a century of computerized rankings. Now he will try to match Roger Federer by earning the 8th title in the oldest of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Djokovic is one ahead of the injured Rafael Nadal and three ahead of the retired Federer for the most singles major wins by an individual.

“Those two guys occupied my mind a lot for the last 15 years,” said Djokovic, who faces Argentina’s Pedro Cachin on Center Court on Monday.

Her 23 is the same number Serena Williams ended her career with last season; Only Margaret Court, who won 24 in both the amateur and professional eras, has more.

“Grand Slams are the target. I don’t know how many, but I think he has a lot more in his body,” Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic said. “It’s interesting to watch, because sometimes you think, ‘Well, you have 23 now.’ But he’s going to find some kind of motivation to win again 24, maybe 25. Who knows where the end is?”

Entering the 2011 season, the so-called Big Three’s Slam standings looked like this: Federer with 16, Nadal with nine, Djokovic with one.

After winning his initial major title at the 2008 Australian Open, Djokovic went through 11 major rounds where four of his losses came in the semi-finals or final against either Federer or Nadal.

His confidence waned a bit.

“That’s where I was really doubting myself, whether or not I could do it, because you get this far but then hit the last hurdle,” Djokovic said. “The more times you fall, the more you question everything, you know what I mean?”

And yet, with the same tenacity he uses on court – “the mental strength he has is unbelievable,” as his first-round opponent Aleksandar Kovacevic said in Paris – Djokovic finds a way off the court. To improve And still does, which is part of why most people consider him, and not No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz, to be the favorite as Djokovic became the first calendar-day opener by a man since Rod Laver in 1969. Years continue to chase the Grand Slam.

“The thing you have to admire about him is that he is very clear on what he wants to achieve – he is trying to get the Grand Slam record. When he put himself in a position to do so, he performed,” said Andy Murray, who won two of his three major titles at Wimbledon. “It didn’t look like he was nervous or thinking too much about it or any of that. Yes, he went and did that. This shows the strength of his character.”

So where did this belief come from?

Djokovic points to several factors: his upbringing during the war and embargo in Serbia in the 1990s; his parents (“more than 95 percent of the people … were laughing at him, and discouraging him from spending what little was left of the family budget on such an expensive sport,” he said); his first coach and “tennis mom,” Jelena Jencic; and later coach and “tennis father,” Nicky Pilic.

All helped him grow as an athlete and person.

Djokovic said, when he was 7 or 8 years old, Gencic would show him videos of the best male and female tennis players. He also taught her “the importance of relaxing and listening to classical music, reading poetry, singing and reading, breathing consciously, etc.”

His mother “has been a rock,” he said, and his father “instilled in me such strength of faith and positive thinking.”

That’s why, like no particular shot or talent, Djokovic says, “On a daily basis, I’m the best on the court.”

This is the reason why he has won 11 of the last 20 Grand Slam tournaments.

And that’s why he wants to keep going.

“To be honest, I don’t feel very comfortable. I still feel hungry for success in tennis, more Grand Slams, more achievements. Djokovic said, as long as that enthusiasm is there, I know I will be able to compete at the highest level. “A few days after Roland Garros, I was already thinking about grass preparation and what needed to be done.”

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