Trouble For Djokovic & Nadal? Novak Says 'I'm Not Too Concerned'
At the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who have won a combined 13 titles at the tournament, were both upset early. In his Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell opener on Wednesday, Nadal lost a set against World No. 111 Ilya Ivashka.
Is there trouble brewing for two of tennis’ all-time greats? Djokovic isn’t concerned.
“We probably made a lot of people think that we can play perfect tennis every single week for the rest of our lives, but that’s not possible,” Djokovic said, cracking a laugh. “I don’t think there is anything strange, it’s just a bad week, [if] our opponents have a very good day, they win a tennis match. It’s as simple as that.”
If anything, the Serbian has been impressed by some of the young stars rising up the FedEx ATP Rankings. That is giving the Big Three of Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer even more motivation to push themselves.
“I think Rafa, myself, Roger have been very successful and dominant in the past 15 years or more and you have a new generation of tennis players coming up and we have to adapt ourselves,” Djokovic admitted. “We have to understand how to improve, how to get better, how to adjust our game to this new group of players that are challenging us for the top spots of the world and for the biggest trophies in the world.”
Djokovic bounced back from his third-round loss in Monte-Carlo with an impressive straight-sets victory on Wednesday against Soonwoo Kwon to reach the Serbia Open quarter-finals in his hometown of Belgrade. Although Nadal had a tougher time with Ivashka, Djokovic was quick to compliment his great rival.
“I’m not too concerned, especially when it comes to Rafa on clay. I don’t think one or two matches or two weeks is going to change the way he plays on clay or for the upcoming tournaments,” Djokovic said. “But obviously it’s interesting for our sport to see us maybe losing to some new players, making things a little more interesting for tennis fans. Obviously we don’t want to lose, I think we both want to keep that level of performance and quality of tennis really high for as long as we possibly can.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas is one of the young players who has installed himself near the top of the sport. Last week, the Greek claimed his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo.
After his victory in the Principality, Tsitsipas credited breathing exercises as part of the reason for his success. Djokovic uses various forms of meditation, too.
“It has been one of the focal points of my everyday life, not just preparation for the tennis matches and practices. I have incorporated those aspects into my daily routines because they make me feel good,” Djokovic said. “As professional athletes in a very dynamic sport, we’re constantly active and we have to have high doses of energy on the court and a really high level of focus for those couple of hours or even more.
“So I think with today’s technology and everything that is happening and all the distractions that we have and the amount of information, we probably don’t pay too much attention and importance to mindfulness and to just relax and sit back and breathe and try to recharge and rejuvenate.”
Djokovic will continue his pursuit of a third Belgrade title against countryman Miomir Kecmanovic on Friday.