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Ivanisevic Reflects On Djokovic & Nadal's Battle For Grand Slam History

Croatian reveals the Djokovic stroke that has impressed him most in 2023
January 29, 2023
Goran Ivanisevic cheers on Novak Djokovic during the Serbian's Australian Open win against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.
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Goran Ivanisevic cheers on Novak Djokovic during the Serbian's Australian Open win against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday. By ATP Staff

Goran Ivanisevic was thrilled to watch his charge, Novak Djokovic, make more history Sunday at the Australian Open. The Serbian claimed a record-extending 10th title at the season’s first major.

But it also marked the 35-year-old’s 22nd Grand Slam trophy, tying Rafael Nadal’s record. Ivanisevic is excited to watch Djokovic and Nadal continue battling for the record.

“I said eight or nine years ago that Novak and Rafa will go over Roger,” Ivanisevic said. “People were looking at me like strangely. But we have 22-22. Two unbelievable competitors, two unbelievable tennis players, what they did for the tennis.

“I’m looking forward. Looking forward, honestly, for both of them to be super healthy, then battle is there. And with the young guys who [are] going to try to find backdoors to sneak and try to do something. But still these two guys, they [are] going to have last word to say there.”

There are plenty of young players challenging the legendary duo, including Djokovic’s opponent in Sunday’s final, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and reigning US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz. But Ivanisevic still has his eyes on the Djokovic-Nadal battle.

“We [are] talking about young guys. They're here, it's great for tennis, great for the future of tennis. But you still have these two guys battling. This was Novak’s home court, and now we going next one to Rafa home court in this handball match of 22-22,” Ivanisevic said. “Yes, they are coming, Alcaraz, unbelievable. Still, if Rafa steps on the court on the French Open, for me he's always the favourite to win the tournament." 

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Djokovic arrived at the Australian Open with injury concerns after hurting his left hamstring in Adelaide. Those concerns grew after it was clear his movement was hindered in the early rounds of the tournament.

But in the end the Serbian showed his class at Melbourne Park, claiming the trophy with the loss of just one set during the fortnight.

“I think I have to agree with him like he said, definitely the best one, not only because all what happened last year and he came back, but last three weeks, they were extremely hard,” Ivanisevic said. “I thought I saw everything in 2021 when he won here with the abdominal tear. This one was unbelievable.

“To play like this every day better and better, it's just impressive.”

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Djokovic is known for his relentless baseline game. His dogged defence stymies all levels of opponents and when necessary, he can step into the court and take charge, while his serve is an underrated weapon. But one shot in particular has stood out to Ivanisevic in 2023.

“I’ve been impressed by his forehand all this year. Actually we work a lot. Let's say in Torino he start to hit the forehands, but we work a lot in the pre-season. Adelaide was not bad,” Ivanisevic said. “But here kind of when he got injured, he needed to be more aggressive. He stepped up and he was smacking forehands unbelievable. Really probably the best two weeks of forehands that I ever saw [from] him in his life. I mean, I never saw him hitting better forehands before. He was really going for it.”

Ivanisevic added that Djokovic is “unbelievable” and that the 93-time tour-level titlist continues to impress the Croatian in new ways.

“The guy is unbelievable. I don't know how to describe in the words. I thought I saw everything, and then you see this. Probably I’m going to see something else,” Ivanisevic said. “Unbelievable. I know he's emotional on the court. Doesn't matter. We talk, he talks. But, like I said before, how he won the tournament, how he played also today in the moments was good tennis, in the moments was bad tennis, but doesn't matter, overall he won 10 Australian Opens.”

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