Novak Djokovic has won 24 Grand Slams and 40 Masters 1000 tournaments, but you know all this, right? Still, just because a person is winning, does not mean one should assume they will always win. Tennis is a tricky sport where if a forehand, serve, or backhand is just the tiniest bit off, that player could be flattened by his opponent.
So what makes Novak Djokovic special besides his ability to hit the ball with pace and put it anywhere on the court? He can also hit shots that seem struck by the hand of your favorite deity. But lots of players can blast a ball and not win.
Andrey Rublev hits the ball as hard as anyone currently on the ATP tour, but he’s never made it past a quarterfinal at a Grand Slam. Why? Likely Rublev’s mental stamina and strength are not good enough. But perhaps Djokovic’s greatest gift is his mental preparation and ability to adjust during a match.
The Next Gen players fear Novak Djokovic says one former player
This is what former ATP No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko thinks. In a recent interview with media site Championship, Davydenko feels that most of the younger players on the tour, including Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune, fear Djokovic because of his experience winning plus his ability to out-think his opponent.
"If Djokovic gets into shape, even without playing a few tournaments, without injury, he is physically ready. It’s more important that you have enough strength for every match. And if they are, his concentration will be much higher than others. That’s why they are afraid of him. Plus, the fear remains: Djokovic also beats the younger generation with his head – they are already psychologically losing to him."
Davydenko should know what it is like to beat Novak Djokovic and lose to him. Before Davydenko retired in 2024, he and Djokovic played eight times with Djokovic winning six of the matches. Of course, seemingly Djokovic’s game has gotten even better the older he has gotten. This isn’t because his raw skills have improved, but because he knows when to hit a shot and when not to.
One player in particular might be catching up to Djokovic, however. And that player is not Carlos Alcarazbut Jannik Sinner. Sinner showed zero fear in defeating Djokovic in November, once at the ATP Finals and once at the Davis Cup. That matchup will be one to watch in 2024.