Like many others, Novak Djokovic used to be just another player as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal ruled the roster in late 2000s. However, the Serb made notable changes to his lifestyle and stepped up his game at the beginning of 2011. Since then, while his greatest rivals Federer and Nadal have won four and 13 Grand Slam titles, respectively, Djokovic alone has lifted 20 of them.
It's no secret that a player cannot perform to the best of his abilities without a team of professionals, unless he's Nick Kyrgios. World No. 7 Djokovic boasts of a team of experienced veterans in the form of coach Goran Ivanisevic, fitness trainer Marco Panichi, and the most important part of the camp — his physiotherapist Ulises Badio.
First of all, he is an exceptional person, he is a good man and the way he treats others is impressive," Djokovic said about Badio.
Argentina's Badio graduated with a degree in kinesiology and physiotherapy, but he also practices manual therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Djokovic, who has rarely struggled with injuries in his career, was dealing with a major issue in his elbow in 2017, forcing him to miss quite a few events, including the US Open. That was when he started working with Badio.
"I started working for ATP in Rome between 2011 and 2012. We saw each other every time he came. As a physiotherapist, I had very clear goals since I was young, my dream was to work with the number one player. Years passed and finally in 2017, Novak asked me to treat him. He asked me to come to Roland Garros and here we are, still together," Badio said.
"Apart from holism, both Novak and I have a very specific life story. I don't know if it brought us closer, but it helped us to be very open when making a decision or doing some kind of therapy. That, to a large extent, is what made us stay together."
Badio is always next to Djokovic during a tournament, constantly checking on him for whatever the Serb does. The 43-year-old physio believes that the smallest of details can have an impact on Djokovic during a match.
"We work with him 24 hours a day. I have to follow him at all times, even when he's sitting, to see what his posture is like, or to know how much water he's drunk or how much he's eaten, or whether he's talked to someone on the phone for a long time, because every little detail can change him in the match," Badio added.
Novak Djokovic is just 1 Major behind Rafael Nadal
After #20, World No. 7 Novak Djokovic had to wait 364 days for his 21st Grand Slam title as he defeated Nick Kyrgios in the summit clash of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships last Sunday. When the Serb beat Cameron Norrie in the semifinals, he registered the record for the most number of Major finals appearances among the men — 32. Before this, him and Roger Federer were tied for 31 finals each.
In the Grand Slam race, Novak Djokovic left Federer behind for the first time as the Swiss maestro, who was the first man to reach 20 Majors, now stands third on the list. Djokovic is just one title short of Grand Slam record-holder Rafael Nadal, who won the Australian Open as well as Roland Garros this year to take his tally to 22.