Novak Djokovic knows that he only has so many years left in his elite tennis career and is taking no shortcuts as he seeks to squeeze out every last drop of his talent, but he also knows that his evolving life gives him more and more reasons to cut gruelling training sessions short.
Speaking with Eurosport, the Serbian legend admitted that his high-profile coach, Goran Ivanisevic, is still finding new ways to motivate him.
After arriving in Paris ahead of this week’s Masters tournament, Djokovic was in a light mood but admitted that he doesn’t love the constant travelling as much as perhaps he once did.
He said: “I’m as flawed a human being as can be. I need even more extra motivation nowadays at this later stages of my career than maybe what I needed five years ago or 10 years ago. Things are different. My life is evolving.”
With a busy life away from the court, including business concerns and his wife and children, the 24-time Grand Slam champion admitted that it is easy to find reasons to resent frivolous travel.
Speaking about his family, he said: “It breaks my heart every time I leave them. So when I travel, when I go somewhere, I really want to win. I want to make that travel worth it.”
When speaking about his motivations, the conversation turned to Djokovic’s coach Ivanisevic.
The Serbian joked that his coaching team has largely failed to find ways to get the best out of him.
Laughing, he said: “Goran and the rest of the team are trying to find new ways to motivate me. They haven’t been succeeding much so far.”
Turning more serious, Djokovic admitted that Ivanisevic was an idol for him as a child, living proof that his dreams were possible.
Joking again, Djokovic admitted that while he previously could swear freely but now need to be much more careful.
He explained: “We have a lot of fun, we are great friends. We have a professional relationship. The problem we have, because of the success of Croatian and Serbian players in the last 30 years or so, we unfortunately have a situation where most of the umpires understand the swearing words.
“So we have to play around a little bit, we have to use the slang, create new words, but when you’re p***** off you don’t think about creating.”
Djokovic is currently promoting Lacoste branded jackets bearing the No. 24 – the number of Grand Slam titles that he has won. He was asked whether he has given any consideration to No. 25.
Laughing again, he responded: “I’ve been instructed not to say anything.”
The Serbian icon continued, calling it a “wonderful problem to have. If No. 25 comes right now in January it would be amazing.”
He continued on the subject of another Grand Slam title, saying: “I’m happy with 24 but people in my country they say why not go for 25, 30. I say if it was that easy, it would be great.”
Told that he makes winning Grand Slams look easy, Djokovic demurred.
He said: “I don’t know how it looks, but I know how it feels. You’ve really got to earn. I feel like a cat sometimes, with nine lives. Every time I play a Grand Slam, I lose one life.”
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