Goran Ivanisevic on Novak Djokovic’s character: It’s not easy to deal with him when he’s losing


Croatian coach reveals what it’s like to work with Novak, the demands of the world No. 1 and what happened during the ATP Finals

TennisDjokovic’s winning streak at Davis Cup ends with defeat to Sinner

Goran Ivanisevic, Novak Djokovic’s coach, has once again discussed what it’s like to work with the ATP No. 1 and he does not hesitate to praise his pupil’s ability to improve every day and how complicated it is to deal with him when he is losing a match.

Djokovic experienced his most recent loss to the hands of the Italian Jannik Sinner in the Davis Cup on November 25 and losing is something that the Serbian never takes particularly well, in fact, he is known for getting “second wind” in games he is facing defeat to rally back and to win and Ivanisevic understands his anger.

“Who am I to get angry with him? He is the best player in the history of tennis,” Ivanisevic said to We Are Tennis. “Sometimes I can only get mad at him when he yells at us for no reason. When he loses a match, he always gives his best and tries his best. But it’s not easy to deal with him when he’s losing.

“Tuesday night at the ATP Finals he finished late. On Wednesday we didn’t see him. To be honest, until Thursday we didn’t know what was going on. We were in the room. We didn’t know if we were going home or if we were going to the warm-up against [Hubert] Hurkacz. We finally found out that he was going to play.

“I think he made a good decision to stay calm. I know it’s not easy to get motivated. He won everything. He finished in the No. 1 spot. But he always finds motivation. He always wants more. He wants something better all the time.

“He chained us with handcuffs for three days. He’s not an easy guy, let’s put it this way. Especially when something doesn’t go his way. He was torturing us, pulling out our fingernails and many more things but that I can’t say. But we are still here, we are alive. I am an old man and I need to be careful with my heart. We are here to make it feel better and to perform better. Sometimes it’s very complicated.”

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Ivanisevic knew his client would win the ATPs

Ivanisevic confesses that when Sinner beat Holger Rune, which gave Novak access to the semifinals of the ATP Finals, he had no doubt that Djokovic would take the title, and he did by defeating his rival 6-3 and 6-3 to claim the championship in straight sets.

“From that moment on I knew Novak was going to win the tournament. When the real Novak Djokovic hits the court, then no one can play with him.”

How to make someone understand how Djokovic works?

Ivanisevic pulls comparison to talk about Djokovic’s day-to-day life in tennis by comparing the legendary player to a business owner seeking to squeeze every last possible performance out of the company he controls.

By doing so, he brings down the superhuman talent of the Serbian to a more understandable level for ordinary people who have never experienced the high-pressure and high demands of professional sports.

“A good analogy would be to name Novak Djokovic as a CEO of a company,” Ivanisevic said. “He seeks and demands profits. Those profits distinguish him from others. Like losses in a company, if he loses, he loses market share, resulting in a drop in the rankings. Nole, like any elite player, finds this too difficult to handle.”

“It is very difficult, but he wants to improve. That’s the good and the bad for me as a coach and for the rest of the team. I think he improved a lot his volleys, his game and position at the net. Now when he gets to the net in general and this year, he hits some unbelievable volleys.

“It’s very difficult to pass to him, before it was very easy. He feels comfortable at the net. In the US Open final he played two or three of the most important volleys in the final against Medvedev. He’s not afraid to go to the net. He’s hitting his forehands much harder. On serve, I think on the second serve, he’s sometimes over 200kph. He’s just going for it.”

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