Ivanisevic: 'You Have To Kill Djokovic 27 Times'
“He's like in the movies. You have to kill the guy 27 times and still he gets up and you have to kill him again and he gets up, he gets up,” Ivanisevic said in a press conference after Djokovic won his sixth Wimbledon title on Sunday. “This is great. I'm proud to be there and to witness that, to be part of that. [He] is going to make history, I strongly believe he will do it.”
Ivanisevic was referencing Djokovic’s chase for a calendar-year Grand Slam. The World No. 1 has won the first three major championships of the season, and now he will try to become just the second man in the Open Era (Rod Laver, 1969), to triumph at all four. The US Open is less than two months away.
“Everything is possible. I'm not going to say [he will reach] 30 [Grand Slams] because it's a long way. But five, six, seven years ago, we were talking about [Roger] Federer, only about Federer. Now you have [Rafael] Nadal and him competing [for] who is going to be the best ever,” Ivanisevic said. “For me, Novak is the best ever. He's writing history. He's going to do it [at the] US Open. I strongly believe he's going to do it, he's going to win all four in one year.”
Part of what makes Djokovic great is his constant hunger for history. The Serbian is always chasing big goals, and he pushes himself to get there.
“Working with him is a privilege, is an honour, it's everything, but it’s not easy. It's a lot of pressure. [Making the] final is not good enough. We count only wins,” Ivanisevic said. “It’s pressure. It's not easy. But it's fun. It's a challenge. He is writing history. Unbelievable. When he won [Roland Garros], he came here very confident, played with a lot of confidence, played good. Some matches he didn't play well, but still won. That's why he's such a champion.”
Ivanisevic did not believe that anybody this century would be able to challenge for a calendar-year Grand Slam. But the Croatian feels his fellow Balkans-native is special.
“We are from [the] Balkans. [For] people from [the] Balkans, everything is possible,” Ivanisevic said. “When nobody expects anything, we create everything. We are very, very special, special people there.”
The 2001 Wimbledon champion did not believe Sunday’s championship clash against Matteo Berrettini featured both men at their very best. But Ivanisevic pointed out that whether Djokovic is at his top level or not, he finds a way to win.
“He is [getting] better and better. He's competing better every day. He's [an] unbelievable competitor, unbelievable. Something new every day,” Ivanisevic said. “Even when he's not playing the best tennis, he's winning. So imagine when he's playing [his] best tennis, it’s impossible to beat him.”
A reporter asked Ivanisevic how he would have approached playing Djokovic when the lefty was in his prime. The Croatian, who is being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday, did not have much hope for himself.
“It’s impossible that you can even believe that you can beat him, because the guy is unbeatable at the moment,” Ivanisevic said. “It was tight against Shapovalov a little bit, but still he came up with some unbelievable shots. He produces some unbelievable things on the court. He's amazing.
“Every day [is] something new, something better, better, better. And he's not going to stop. He just doesn't want to stop.”