Novak Djokovic might be on the wrong side of 30, but his coach Goran Ivanisevic has warned that the 21-time Grand Slam winner is “still hungry” and determined to improve further.
The 35-year-old finished the season on a high on Sunday as >he defeated Casper Ruud to win his first ATP Finals title in seven years with the latest trophy helping him to equal Roger Federer’s tally of six. He also became the oldest player to lift the season-ending trophy as Federer was 30 when he won his final ATP Finals title in 2011.
While many top sports stars’ powers start to wane after they turn 30, Djokovic only seems to be getting better and better.
“He’s practising even harder than when he was 22. That’s why he’s still so good and that’s why he’s still going to be even better,” Ivanisevic said.
“The will to practise, the will to improve, the will to be better is amazing. He’s taking care of his body. In my time we stopped tennis [aged] 30, 31. You were already [an] old guy ready to leave. But now [it is] unbelievable.”
Djokovic’s great rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal also flourished after they turned 30 and Ivanisevic says the Serbian is ready for any challenge from the next generation.
He added: “Look at Roger couple years back. Look at Rafa. Look at him. They all talk about, yes, young players are coming. It’s great for the tennis… You have [the] youngest No 1 in the world who made unbelievable things this year, Carlos [Alcaraz].
“But look at Novak. He’s still hungry, he’s still winning the tournaments, playing unbelievable tennis. He’s still already thinking now about preparation for next season.”
Djokovic’s movement, his return of serve and his backhand have always been highlighted as some his best weapons, but Ivanisevic feels his serve should be talked about more.
His serves were top notch the whole week in Turinand he didn’t face a single break point against Ruud in the showpiece match on Sunday.
“His serve was [a] very underestimated shot all through [his] career. If you look so many matches, five, 10 years ago, his serve always saved him somehow,” Ivanisevic said.
“But now he’s even better. Now he always wants to improve. Especially this week, amazing percentage, amazing precision of the serve. Every time he needed, he hit [an] unbelievable first serve. His second serve is much better.
“But his serve is one of the best shots which people, they don’t talk [about], because they have so many other things, they forget to talk about his serve. He has one of the best serves. Especially when it’s tight, it’s tough, especially this week he was hitting unbelievable serve under pressure.”
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