In Focus | Dubai Tennis Championships

Mental strength key for Djokovic

Top player predicts blossoming rivalry against Murray

  • By Alaric Gomes Senior Reporter
  • Published: 20:45 February 24, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Tennis is not just about hitting balls and winning points, but also about keeping a stable mental attitude and approach, according to World No.1 Novak Djokovic.

“It’s a mental battle as much as it is physical, especially if you’re playing one of your top rivals in the final of a Grand Slam. Every point is crucial,” Djokovic explained as he reflected on his Australian Open final win against Andy Murray last month.

“It could have gone either way after the first set. He [Murray] had some break balls to take it maybe even to two sets to love. But I managed to stay tough and have that necessary belief in order to carry on in the match until the end,” the Serb explained.

Of late, the two players have had a genuine rivalry going on between them. But Djokovic still holds the tussle between Federer and Nadal as the ultimate tennis head-to-head.

“I cannot pick him [Murray] over Roger and Rafa because all three of them are still my biggest rivals and I cannot pick one of those three guys because Roger and Rafa have been so dominant in our sport and they have still – from all of the active players – the biggest rivalry,” Djokovic insisted.

“Andy and I have played a lot of great matches in the last 15 months and hopefully we can maintain this high level of excitement and tough matches when we’re playing and develop this rivalry in years to come,” he hoped.

Like other players on the men’s tour, Djokovic has been missing the recently injured Nadal’s presence. “I’ve seen highlights of his [Nadal’s] matches. Actually, I watched him play in Brazil, maybe one set. He’s still playing really, really good on clay and I didn’t expect anything different,” he said.

“I don’t know how he feels physically, but he played in finals and won a tournament, even though it’s a 250 event and he hasn’t played in those tournaments in many years. I’m sure that’s going to give him a lot of confidence for the rest of the season because that’s what he wanted. It’s great for tennis that he’s back, there’s no question about it,” he added.

Gulf News