Novak Djokovic spoke about continuously adapting and changing his physical and mental training and recovery to stay at his best despite his advancing years.
On Sunday, September 10, Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in the 2023 US Open final to clinch an Open Era record 24th Grand Slam title, breaking his tie with Serena Williams. He is now level with Margaret Court for the most singles Major trophies in tennis history.
At the post-match press conference, Djokovic was asked about how he continues to dominate the sport at the age of 36. In reply, the Serbian stated that he is constantly adapting to remain at his best.
"There are always changes happening, literally on a weekly to monthly basis in my approach to training, to recovery, to mental training. There's always something that I'm trying to add so that I can up my performance in my game at least for a few percent. It's a constant process of trying to get better and trying to implement certain things that work for you and finding that formula," he explained.
"One of the biggest lessons I have learned probably mentally throughout my career is that even if you find a formula that works, it's not a guarantee, and actually most likely it's not going to work the next year. You need to reinvent yourself, because everyone else does. As a 36-year-old competing with 20-year-olds I probably have to do it more than I have ever done it in order to keep my body in shape, in order to be able to recover so that I can perform on the highest level consistently," he added.
Djokovic was quick to admit that he wasn't the only player who has adapted with age and cited the examples of NBA superstar LeBron James and NFL legend Tom Brady as two players who have done incredibly well throughout their careers.
"I know I'm not the only one. There are a lot of great champions in different sports that thrive on this kind of approach to perfect themselves, their approach, their game, their performance, their recovery, every single day. On and on. That's why LeBron James still keeps going at his age, or Tom Brady, you know, greats like that, that are inspiring," he said.
Novak Djokovic: "Maybe you can call me a perfectionist"
Novak Djokovic further stated that he remains motivated and inspired to go toe-to-toe with all the younger players, while not letting go of the joy of playing the sport. He also said that he remains very critical of himself, be it in matches or during training sessions.
"Mentally and emotionally to still keep the right balance between motivation so that I'm actually inspired and motivated to play the best tennis and to compete with these guys and to actually not let go in the moments when I maybe can, and at the same time keep the playfulness and passion for the sport," he said.
"Because, I can be very down on myself and go into really high-stress moments, on the practice days or matches. You spend a lot of energy. But I guess, maybe you can call me [a] perfectionist," he added.
The 24-time Grand Slam champion underlined the need to constantly evolve in order to have an edge over his younger opponents.
"That's basically it. It's a constant, evolving process of me trying to implement certain things that will give me an edge over the young guns," he concluded.