What you can learn from Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is on a whirlwind of a comeback.  He may not be my favorite player ever, in fact, I can’t really stand him, you still have to respect what he’s done.

Here’s what you can learn from him:

Never Give Up

A couple of years ago, Novak was on top of the tennis world.  He had accomplished things that neither Federer and Nadal hadn’t accomplished yet.

Then came the slump.

Djokovic suffered a “surprising” loss to Sam Querry in the round of 32 at Wimbledon in 2016. It was surprising because it was near impossible to defeat Djokovic for over a year.

After that though, it became a much more common thing until Wimbledon 2018. Djokovic was struggling to find his mojo.  He was looking everywhere he could look to find the answers he was searching for.  He changed coaches, brought in a shaman, completely changed up those close to him.

and none of it worked.

His coach at the time, Boris Becker said:

“Our hands were tied a little bit because we couldn’t do the work we wanted to do,” he told Sky Sports. “He didn’t spend as much time on the practice court in the last six months as he should have, and he knows that … Success like this doesn’t happen by pushing a button. Success like this doesn’t just happen by showing up at a tournament. You have to work your bottom off because the opposition does the same.”

Before the French Open this year he did something that really made a difference.  He brought his crew back.

He after going through some troubles, Djokovic went back to what made him successful.  You could start to see that he was a different play, yet again, at Roland Garros until he had a meltdown.

He didn’t let his terrible time since 2016 trouble him though.  He knew that he still had the tennis in him to compete at the top level.

At Wimbledon, that tennis came through.  His semi-final with Nadal was incredible and had to have lifted his spirit and confidence.

Lesson #1: Don’t give up

Keep the Ball in

It seems like this would be pretty simple, but Djokovic keeps the ball in play.  That’s his superpower on the tennis court.  Just like the players he through time he is compared to, his number one talent is speed.

Djokovic has the uncanny ability to get to just about every ball.  What causes others problems with that is that he gets the ball back with a purpose.  The majority of shots that come off Djokovic’s racket are still forceful or neutral enough to keep an opponent off-balance.

In the US Open final against Pel Potro, the Argentine hammered forehands all over the court, and Djokovic was still able to get to them and return them.  Often times, he was able to even redirect the ball to the open court.

So what can we get from this?

Lesson #2: Get the ball back.

If you can increase your speed and footwork, it gets much easier to get to the ball.  Too often with recreational players, they give up on a ball because they don’t think they can get to it.  Make an effort.  I tell my students all the time that you don’t know if you can get to a ball if you give up.  If you try you might be able to do something with it.

Lesson #3: When you are playing someone that hammers the ball, don’t try to outhit them.  Get smarter.

Djokovic was great at redirecting the ball to the open court against DelPo.  He didn’t try to out hit him, nor did he try to do just get the ball back.  Try to use your opponent’s pace against them.  If you can take the ball early and use your opponent’s pace, you can wear them down!

 

Always Learn Something

You don’t have to like someone to respect them.  If you use these tips and practice them, you can take your game to the next level.  All it takes is hard work, belief, and some good tactics.

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