June 21, 2024
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic will have some big questions to answer as he prepares to start his grass court season in Monte-Carlo next week.
After a start to the year that has sparked suggestions he is losing his appetite to compete at the top of the game, the world No 1 now has to respond to claims from his former coach Goran Ivanisevic that his motivation has been waning in recent months.

After losing in the Australian Open semi-final against Jannik Sinner and then slumping to a shock defeat against Luca Nardi at the Indian Wells Masters, Djokovic opened to skip the Miami Open to spend more time with his family.

That announcement sparked questions over his ongoing commitment to the sport and his split from Ivanisevic added to the intrigue around the most successful male tennis player of all-time.
The world No 1 posted a heartfelt message of thanks to Ivanisevic as he announced their parting on Instagram, as he confirmed his partnership with the former Wimbledon champion had come to an end.

“I remember clearly the moment I invited Goran to be part of my team. It was back in 2018, and Marian and I were looking to innovate and bring some serve magic to our duo,” said Djokovic.

“In fact, not only we brought serve, but also lots of laughter, fun, year-end no1 rankings, record-breaking achievements and 12 more Grand Slams (and a few finals) to the count since then. Did I mention a bit of drama too?

“Goran and I decided to stop working together a few days ago. Our on-court chemistry had its ups and downs, but our friendship was always rock solid.
“In fact, I am proud to say (not sure he is) that apart from winning tournaments together, we also had a side battle in (the board game) Parchisi going on… for many years. And – that tournament never stops for us. Thanks for everything my friend. Love you.”

While it is clear that Djokovic still has an affinity for Ivanisevic, the Croats first major interview since his split from the 24-time Grand Slam champion threw up plenty of questions.
At the top of that list has to be whether Djokovic still has the stomach to fight for more glory when he has already achieved more than enough.

Djokovic’s fellow Serb Nenad Zimonjic had filled Ivanisevic’s shoes as he prepared to play in Monte-Carlo, with that choice applauded by the former Wimbledon champion.

“I don’t know for how much longer Novak plans to keep on playing, but the perfect person is with him at the moment – Ziki (Nenad Zimonjic),” said Ivanisevic in an interview with Tennis Majors.

“He is a great friend of mine, we went through a lot together and I love him. He has vast tennis knowledge, but what is most important – he knows Novak really well.
“At the moment, Novak doesn’t need someone completely new, who is yet to get to know him. Let’s say 10 days pass, Novak ‘goes crazy’ and this new coach is left wondering what is going on.

“I believe that Novak will find motivation, I am sure of it. I wish him Olympic gold with all my heart, even more than the Slams.”

Motivation was never an issue for Djokovic when he was duelling with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the title of the greatest player of all-time.

Having won that battle, it is hard to know how this great champion continues to fire his burners.

He seemed to be in the zone for much of 2023 and confirmed as much by ending the year with wins at the US Open and ATP Finals.

Yet he admitted the time away from his family when he was in Australia for an extended period was tough and his activities outside of tennis suggest other interests are now distracting him from tennis.

He has been showing up at more events and award ceremonies since Mark Madden took over as his senior business adviser last year, with the drive for more and more success on the tennis court inevitably harder to sustain as he approaches his 37th birthday.
In addition, he also has the presence of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz in his world and he will know that those two young guns will eventually end his reign as the king of the men’s game.

What comes next for Djokovic could be a revival and a return to his Grand Slam-winning form, but an early defat in Monte-Carlo would fuel the rumours that his tennis story may come to an end sooner than we expected.

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