Novak Djokovic reveals why he is grateful to Nadal, Federer and Murray

·3-min read
Novak Djokovic Credit: Alamy
Novak Djokovic Credit: Alamy

Tennis has been blessed to have four icons propelling the game to new levels in recent years, with Novak Djokovic confirming his success has been inspired by the desire to beat his great rivals.

Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are the shining stars of this golden age for the men’s game, with Djokovic suggesting defeats against those three players at the start of his career helped to show him what he needed to do to win.

Federer, Nadal and Murray beat Djokovic in Grand Slam finals before he found a winning formula to dominate at the top of the game.

Now he has revealed those heart-breaking defeats at the start of his tennis journey paved the way for the dominant success he is enjoying now.

“Luckily for me in my career I managed to win more matches than those that I lost when I was facing difficult circumstances,” he said after his win against Grigor Dimitrov in the Italian Open on Sunday.

“I also lost a lot of matches, particularly in the beginning of my career. For a few years, whenever I needed to make that final step or win a Slam, I didn’t manage to do that, so I learned a lot.

“I got stronger because of the rivalries, particularly with Federer, Nadal and Murray. Just staying the course, staying patient and believing in the process and the journey.

“Understanding what works for you best, what’s your winning formula mentally and also physically and emotionally, and then sticking to it.”

Djokovic has saved match points to win titanic battles in the biggest tournaments of them all over the last decade, when he has elevated his legacy to iconic levels with a series of wins.

The good news for Djokovic appears to be that the elbow problem that forced him to pull out of the Madrid Open earlier this month appears to be under control after his thrilling win against Dimitrov.

While he has been wearing an arm support in Rome, his performance against fellow veteran Dimitrov will encourage his army of fans around the world.

Now the tennis work awaits the first meeting of 2023 between Djokovic and incoming world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz, as the debate over who should be seen as favourite for the French Open heats up.

Even though he will lose his position at the top of the ATP rankings to Alcaraz next week, the young Spaniard taking over at the top of the game has yet to beat Djokovic in a Grand Slam event.

Until he does that, there is no conclusive proof that the Djokovic era has come to an end.

That meeting with Alcaraz may yet come this week, with the duo on course to meet in the Italian Open final on Sunday.

Both players still have plenty of obstacles to overcome before that blockbuster match is confirmed and there is no doubt that Djokovic will be keen to do all he can to ensure Alcaraz does not get it all his own way as he looks to establish his own era of dominance.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic wins thriller against Grigor Dimitrov

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